Evolutionary conserved neural signature of early life stress affects animal social competence

Nyman, Cecilia Alexandra; Fischer, Stefan; Aubin-Horth, Nadia; Taborsky, Barbara (2018). Evolutionary conserved neural signature of early life stress affects animal social competence. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological sciences, 285(1871) The Royal Society 10.1098/rspb.2017.2344

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In vertebrates, the early social environment can persistently influence behaviour and social competence later in life. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying variation in animal social competence are largely unknown. In rats, high-quality maternal care causes an upregulation of hippocampal glucocorticoid receptors (gr) and reduces offspring stress responsiveness. This identifies gr regulation as a candidate mechanism for maintaining variation in animal social competence. We tested this hypothesis in a highly social cichlid fish, Neolamprologus pulcher, reared with or without caring parents. We find that the molecular pathway translating early social experience into later-life alterations of the stress axis is homologous across vertebrates: fish reared with parents expressed the glucocorticoid receptor gr1 more in the telencephalon. Furthermore, expression levels of the transcription factor egr-1 (early growth response 1) were associated with gr1 expression in the telencephalon and hypothalamus. When blocking glucocorticoid receptors (GR) with an antagonist, mifepristone (RU486), parent-reared individuals showed more socially appropriate, submissive behaviour when intruding on a larger conspecific's territory. Remarkably, mifepristone-treated fish were less attacked by territory owners and had a higher likelihood of territory takeover. Our results indicate that early social-environment effects on stress axis programming are mediated by an evolutionary conserved molecular pathway, which is causally involved in environmentally induced variation of animal social competence.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE) > Behavioural Ecology
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE)

UniBE Contributor:

Nyman, Cecilia Alexandra; Fischer, Stefan and Taborsky, Barbara

Subjects:

500 Science > 590 Animals (Zoology)
500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology

ISSN:

1471-2954

Publisher:

The Royal Society

Language:

English

Submitter:

Joachim Gerhard Frommen

Date Deposited:

21 Mar 2019 16:27

Last Modified:

04 Nov 2019 23:05

Publisher DOI:

10.1098/rspb.2017.2344

PubMed ID:

29386366

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.124573

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/124573

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