Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Maternal care influences brain chemistry into adulthood

08.12.2011
The effect of the messenger substance neuropeptide Y depends on the behaviour of the mother during infancy

Neuropeptide Y (NPY) is the most abundant peptide hormone of the central nervous system. It is involved in various processes including stress management, the development of anxiety behaviour and body weight regulation.


In a study on mice, scientists have discovered that the effect of the peptide hormone of NPY depends on how much care and attention the young animals experienced in the first three weeks of life. Mice who had received little care from their mothers were more anxious adults than their counterparts who had received intensive attention in their early weeks of life. © Max Planck Institute for Medical Research

A collaborative research group including scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg has demonstrated using mice that intensive maternal care during infancy promotes the effect of NPY in the brain.

As a result of receiving such care, the animals were also less anxious in adulthood and weighed more than their counterparts who had received less affection. The research group was able to show that the effect is explained by the maternal care which stimulated the persistent formation of certain NPY receptors in the forebrain.

Neuropeptide Y (NPY) assumes several key roles in the brain’s complex control circuits. The messenger substance not only influences body weight but also controls, among other things, the development of anxiety and stress responses. Hence NPY plays an important role in a series of mental illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorders and anxiety disorders. NPY takes effect in the brain by binding to different docking sites on the neurons – the NPY receptors. In this way, the hormone triggers signal cascades which control the different physical functions.

In a study on mice carried out in Rolf Sprengel from the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research and his colleagues in Italy have shown that the effect of NPY depends on how much care and attention the young animals experienced in the first three weeks of life. Mice who had received little care from their mothers were more anxious adults than their counterparts who had received intensive attention in their early weeks of life. They also remained slimmer throughout their lives. As the researchers discovered, the maternal behaviour influenced the formation of NPY1 receptors in the limbic system – the area of the brain responsible for the processing of emotions.

“We were able to show that the expression of the NPY1 receptor in the young animals’ limbic system is increased by good maternal care,” explains Rolf Sprengel. “This ensures their healthy development in the long term.” The positive effects of maternal care and attention were evidenced by the fact that the young animals gained weight faster and showed greater courage in behavioural experiments as adults than rodents which had experienced little warmth and security after birth.

For their study, the scientists had newborn mice, in which the NPY1 receptors had been switched off selectively, raised by mothers who differed in their behaviour towards the young animals. One group belonged to a mouse strain that was exemplary in caring for its young. These females spent a lot of time with their offspring, fed them frequently and, in addition to extensive grooming, also provided intensive physical contact. In young animals which grew up under such conditions, new NPY-1 receptors formed in the brain’s limbic system. The second group of females were programmed to take far less care of the young. In this case, the number of NPY1 receptors in the young mice did not increase.

The neuroscientists’ findings help us to reach a better understanding of how experience in the early life of an organism can affect it in later life. “The results of the study show how maternal care and attention have a sustained impact on the chemistry of the limbic system,” says Rolf Sprengel. Maternal behaviour can influence the emotions and physical constitution into adulthood in this way.

Contact
Dr. Rolf Sprengel
Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, Heidelberg
Phone: +49 62 2148-6101
Email: Rolf.Sprengel@mpimf-heidelberg.mpg.de
Original publication
Ilaria Bertocchi, Alessandra Oberto, Angela Longo, Paolo Mele, Marianna Sabetta, Alessandro Bartolomucci, Paola Palanza, Rolf Sprengel, Carola Eva
Regulatory functions of limbic Y1 receptors in body weight and anxiety uncovered by conditional knockout and maternal care

PNAS, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1109468108

Dr. Rolf Sprengel | Max-Planck-Institut
Further information:
http://www.mpg.de/4685916/maternal_care_brain_chemistry

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Scientists uncover the role of a protein in production & survival of myelin-forming cells
19.07.2018 | Advanced Science Research Center, GC/CUNY

nachricht NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts
18.07.2018 | New York Stem Cell Foundation

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A smart safe rechargeable zinc ion battery based on sol-gel transition electrolytes

20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers

20.07.2018 | Information Technology

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>