Prenatal exposure to restraint stress causes long-lasting changes in neuroplasticity that likely reflect pathological modifications triggered by early-life stress. We found that the offspring of dams exposed to repeated episodes of restraint stress during pregnancy (here named prenatal restraint stress mice or PRS mice) developed a schizophrenia-like phenotype, characterized by a decreased expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor and glutamic acid decarboxylase 67, an increased expression of type-1 DNA methyl transferase (DNMT1) in the frontal cortex, and a deficit in social interaction, locomotor activity, and prepulse inhibition. PRS mice also showed a marked decrease in metabotropic glutamate 2 (mGlu2) and mGlu3 receptor mRNA and protein levels in the frontal cortex, which was manifested at birth and persisted in adult life. This decrease was associated with an increased binding of DNMT1 to CpG-rich regions of mGlu2 and mGlu3 receptor promoters and an increased binding of MeCP2 to the mGlu2 receptor promoter. Systemic treatment with the selective mGlu2/3 receptor agonist LY379268 (0.5 mg/kg, i.p., twice daily for 5 days), corrected all the biochemical and behavioral abnormalities shown in PRS mice. Our data show for the first time that PRS induces a schizophrenia-like phenotype in mice, and suggest that epigenetic changes in mGlu2 and mGlu3 receptors lie at the core of the pathological programming induced by early-life stress.
- metabotropic glutamate receptors
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health