Brain/behavioral adaptation to ancestor’s experience

Life experiences, whether adverse or beneficial, not only have effects on the individuals who directly experience these events, but also have effects on their children and even grandchildren. For example, we demonstrated in mice that maternal stress and inflammatory conditions during pregnancy increase anxiety in the offspring. Also, we found that maternal physical exercise, as compared to sedentary life, during the lactating period programs a higher level of social dominance in the male offspring. We identified changes in maternal serum and breast milk cytokines that can signal across the placenta and the neonatal gut, respectively, to program offspring behavior. Current work is focused on linking maternally derived cytokines, via immunological, neural and microbial pathways, to offspring brain programming.

 

Relevant publications
Liu B, Zupan B, Laird E, Klein S, Gleason G, Bozinoski M, Toth GJ, Toth M. Maternal hematopoietic TNF, via milk chemokines, programs hippocampal development and memory. Nature Neuroscience, 17: 97-105, 2014.

Zupan, B., Liu, BF., Taki, F., Toth GJ., Toth, M. Maternal brain TNF programs innate fear in the offspring. Current Biology, 2017; 27(24):3859-3863.

Gleason, G., Liu, B., Bruening, S., Zupan, B., Auerbach, A, Mark, W, , Oh, J-e., Gal, J., Lee, F., Toth M. Serotonin1A receptor gene as a genetic and prenatal maternal environmental factor in anxiety.  Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA.  107(16):7592-7. 2010. PMID: 20368423.