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Qualitative Differences in Pup-Retrieval Strategies in a Maternal Separation Paradigm  [PDF]
Loudin Daoura, Ingrid Nylander, Erika Roman
Journal of Behavioral and Brain Science (JBBS) , 2013, DOI: 10.4236/jbbs.2013.38064

The rodent maternal separation (MS) paradigm is frequently used to investigate the impact of early-life conditions in the offspring. One critical issue is whether the effects seen in the offspring are a result of maternal contact deprivation and/or altered pup-directed maternal behavior. To address this question we used an innovative approach with a qualitative analysis of pup-retrieval strategies in a test situation related to risk for the pups. The dams were separated from their litters for 0 (MS0) or 360 (MS360) min, respectively. The pups were placed in a risk area in the multivariate concentric square field? test at two test occasions and the pup-retrieval strategies were recorded. No significant evident differences between MS0 and MS360 dams were found. However, there were clearly two different strategies, either removing the pups out of potential danger or into safety, and these strategies were represented in both MS groups. As compared to the MS0 dams, the MS360 dams did not change their strategies and left more pups in the risk area in both pup-retrieval tests. This implies different pup-retrieval strategies depending on early-life conditions.


Effects of Rearing Conditions on Behaviour and Endogenous Opioids in Rats with Alcohol Access during Adolescence
Sara Palm, Loudin Daoura, Erika Roman, Ingrid Nylander
PLOS ONE , 2013, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0076591
Abstract: Causal links between early-life stress, genes and later psychiatric diagnoses are not possible to fully address in human studies. Animal models therefore provide an important complement in which conditions can be well controlled and are here used to study and distinguish effects of early-life stress and alcohol exposure. The objective of this study was to investigate the impact of rearing conditions on behaviour in young rats and if these changes could be followed over time and to examine interaction effects between early-life environment and adolescent alcohol drinking on behaviour and immunoreactive levels of the opioid peptides dynorphin B, met-enkephalin-Arg6Phe7 and beta-endorphin. We employed a rodent model, maternal separation, to study the impact of rearing conditions on behaviour, voluntary alcohol consumption and alcohol-induced effects. The consequences of short, 15 min (MS 15), and long, 360 min (MS 360), maternal separation in combination with adolescent voluntary alcohol consumption on behaviour and peptides were examined. A difference in the development of risk taking behaviour was found between the MS15 and MS360 while the development of general activity was found to differ between intake groups. Beta-endorphin levels in the pituitary and the periaqueductal gray area was found to be higher in the MS15 than the MS360. Adolescent drinking resulted in higher dynorphin B levels in the hippocampus and higher met-enkephalin-Arg6Phe7 levels in the amygdala. Amygdala and hippocampus are involved in addiction processes and changes in these brain areas after adolescent alcohol drinking may have consequences for cognitive function and drug consumption behaviour in adulthood. The study shows that individual behavioural profiling over time in combination with neurobiological investigations provides means for studies of causality between early-life stress, behaviour and vulnerability to psychiatric disorders.
Postpartum behavioral profiles in Wistar rats following maternal separation - altered exploration and risk-assessment behavior in MS15 dams
Loudin Daoura,My Hjalmarsson,Sadia Oreland,Ingrid Nylander,Erika Roman
Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience , 2010, DOI: 10.3389/fnbeh.2010.00037
Abstract: The rodent maternal separation (MS) model is frequently used to investigate the impact of early environmental factors on adult neurobiology and behavior. The majority of MS studies assess effects in the offspring and few address the consequences of repeated pup removal in the dam. Such studies are of interest since alterations detected in offspring subjected to MS may, at least in part, be mediated by variations in maternal behavior and the amount of maternal care provided by the dam. The aim of this study was to investigate how daily short (15 min; MS15) and prolonged (360 min; MS360) periods of MS affects the dam by examining postpartum behavioral profiles using the multivariate concentric square field? (MCSF) test. The dams were tested on postpartum days 24–25, i.e., just after the end of the separation period and weaning. The results reveal a lower exploratory drive and lower risk-assessment behavior in MS15 dams relative to MS360 or animal facility reared dams. The present results contrast some of the previously reported findings and provide new information about early post-weaning behavioral characteristics in a multivariate setting. Plausible explanations for the results are provided including a discussion how the present results fit into the maternal mediation hypothesis.
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