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Pup exposure elicits hippocampal cell proliferation in the prairie vole

The onset of parental behavior has profound and enduring effects on behavior and neurobiology across a variety of species. In some cases, mere exposure to a foster neonate (and a subsequent parental response) can have similar effects. In the present experiment, we exposed adult male and female prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster) to two foster pups for 20min and quantified cell proliferation in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus (DG), medial amygdala (MeA) and cortical amygdala (CorA). Prairie voles are highly social rodents that typically display biparental care and spontaneous parental care when exposed to foster pups. Comparisons were made between the animals that responded parentally or non-parentally towards the pups, as well as control conditions. Cell proliferation was assessed using injections of 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine (BrdU) and immumocytochemical localization of this marker. The phenotype of the cells was determined using double label immunofluoresence for BrdU and TuJ1 (a neuronal marker). An increase in cell proliferation in the DG was seen in animals exposed to pups. However, animals that responded non-parentally had a greater number of BrdU labeled cells in the DG compared to those that responded parentally. The majority of BrdU labeled cells co-expressed TuJ1 across all groups. These results demonstrate that exposure to a foster pup and the behavioral reaction to it (parental or non-parental) are associated with site-specific changes in cell proliferation. (C) 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved


Ruscio, M. G., Sweeny, T. D., Hazelton, J. L., Suppatkul, P., Boothe, E., & Carter Porges, C. (2008). Pup exposure elicits hippocampal cell proliferation in the prairie vole. Behavioural Brain Research, 187(1), 9-16. DOI: 10.1016/j.bbr.2007.08.028

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