Repeated long separations from pups produce depression-like behavior in rat mothers

Maria L. Boccia, Maria Razzoli, Sivaram Prasad Vadlamudi, Whit Trumbull, Christopher Caleffie, Cort A. Pedersen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations

Abstract

Long maternal (LMS) versus brief maternal (BMS) daily separations of rat pups from their mothers have contrasting effects on their adult stress responses and maternal behavior by, respectively, decreasing and increasing licking received from their mothers. We hypothesized that LMS decreases pup-licking in mothers by inducing learned helplessness, creating a depression-like state. We subjected postpartum rats to LMS (3 h), BMS (15 min) or no separation (NMS) on postpartum days 2-14. After weaning, mothers were given a forced swim test (FST). LMS mothers exhibited more immobility and fewer escape attempts than BMS or NMS mothers. These results suggest that LMS induces a depression-like state, which may account for the reductions in maternal behavior seen in LMS mothers. Immobility in the FST is recognized as an animal model of depression. Therefore, LMS may be a model of maternal depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-71
Number of pages7
JournalPsychoneuroendocrinology
Volume32
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by PHS Grants MH066217 to MLB and MH61995 to CAP.

Funding Information:
Gaynes, B.N., Gavin, N., Meltzer-Brody, S., Lohr, K.N., Swinson, T., Gartlehner, G., Brody, S., Miller, W.C., 2005. Perinatal depression: prevalence, screening accuracy, and screening outcomes. Evidence Report/Technology Assessment No. 119 (Prepared by the TRI-University of North Carolina Evidence-based Practice Center, under Contract No. 290-02-0016. AHRQ Publication No. 05-E006-2. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Keywords

  • Handling effects
  • Learned helplessness
  • Maternal depression
  • Maternal separation

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