Early-life manipulation of cortisol and its receptor alters stress axis programming and social competence

By Reyes-Contreras, Maria & G. Glauser, D.J. Rennison, B. Taborsky

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society - Series B, v. 374(n. 1770), pp. 1-13 (25-Feb-2019). DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2018.0119


" In many vertebrate species, early social experience generates long-term effects on later life social behaviour. These effects are accompanied by persistent modifications in the expression of genes implicated in the stress axis. It is unknown, however, whether stress axis programming can affect the development of social competence, and if so, by which mechanism(s). Here, we used pharmacological manipulations to persistently reprogramme the hypothalamic–pituitary–interrenal axis of juvenile cooperatively breeding cichlids, Neolamprologus pulcher. During the first two months of life, juveniles were repeatedly treated with cortisol, mifepristone or control treatments. Three months after the last manipulation, we tested for treatment effects on (i) social competence, (ii) the expression of genes coding for corticotropin-releasing factor (crf), glucocorticoid receptor (gr1) and mineralocorticoid receptor (mr) in the telencephalon and hypothalamus and (iii) cortisol levels. Social competence in a social challenge was reduced in cortisol-treated juveniles, which is in accordance with previous work applying early-life manipulations using different social experiences. During early life, both cortisol and mifepristone treatments induced a persistent downregulation of crf and upregulation of mr in the telencephalon. We suggest that these persistent changes in stress gene expression may represent an effective physiological mechanism for coping with stress "

Classification: Behavior, Lake Tanganyika.

Language: English

Reyes-Contreras, Maria & G. Glauser, D.J. Rennison, B. Taborsky. 2019. "Early-life manipulation of cortisol and its receptor alters stress axis programming and social competence". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society - Series B. v. 374(n. 1770), pp. 1-13 (crc09498) (abstract)