BioSciences Imaging Centre - Masters by Research Theses

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    The effects of stressors during early life on hippocampal neurogenesis and microglial activation in the male and female brain
    (University College Cork, 2021-04-05) McGovern, Andrew J.; Nolan, Yvonne M.; O'Leary, Olivia
    Stress during critical periods of brain development and maturation such as adolescence is associated with an increased risk of developing stress-related psychiatric disorders which are more common in women than men. Early life stress such as maternal separation (MS), juvenile stress (JS) and inflammatory insults like lipopolysaccharide (LPS), have been found to induce anxiety and depressive-like behaviours and decrease adult hippocampal neurogenesis in rodents. However, the effects of early life stress on adult hippocampal neurogenesis and associated function have been mostly assessed in male rodents. The impact of early life stress on microglia, which are involved in the regulation of adult hippocampal neurogenesis and dendritic remodelling, has also been predominantly examined in male rodents. Thus, in this study we assessed adult hippocampal neurogenesis and hippocampal microglia following LPS administration in MS juvenile female Sprague-Dawley rats and following JS in male and female Sprague-Dawley rats in adulthood. MS increased the number of newly born hippocampal neurons in the ventral hippocampus, reduced the dendritic complexity of newly born neurons in the whole hippocampus and increased the soma size of microglia, indicating activation. LPS reduced newly born hippocampal dendritic complexity and increased the number of microglia in the dorsal hippocampus. Conversely, LPS administration in MS rats reduced the number of microglia in the dorsal hippocampus and MS attenuated microglial activation in response to LPS. LPS administration in MS increased dendritic complexity in the granule cell layer (GCL) and further reduced dendritic complexity in the ventral but not dorsal hippocampus of juvenile female rats. JS did not affect hippocampal neurogenesis in adult male or female rats but reduced the cell soma size of microglia in the GCL in the dorsal hippocampus of females. We observed significant sex differences in adult rats; females had fewer newly born neurons with less dendritic complexity in the dorsal hippocampus than males. There were also fewer microglia in the molecular layer (ML) of the hippocampus in adult female than male rats. Together the data here shows that the effect of early life stressors differentially affects hippocampal neurogenesis and hippocampal microglia dependent on age, sex and subregion of the hippocampus analysed.