Early-life adversity (ELA) increases the likelihood of neuropsychiatric diagnoses, which are more prevalent in women than men. Since changes in reproductive hormone levels can also increase the probability of anxiety disorders in women, we examined the effects of ELA on adult female mice across the estrous cycle. We found that during diestrus, when progesterone levels are relatively high, ELA mice exhibit increased avoidance behavior and increased theta oscillation power in the ventral hippocampus (vHIP). We also found that diestrus ELA mice had higher levels of progesterone and lower levels of allopregnanolone, a neurosteroid metabolite of progesterone, in the vHIP compared with control-reared mice. Progesterone receptor antagonism normalized avoidance behavior in ELA mice, while treatment with a negative allosteric modulator of allopregnanolone promoted avoidance behavior in control mice. These results suggest that altered vHIP progesterone and allopregnanolone signaling during diestrus increases avoidance behavior in ELA mice.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Physics and Astronomy
- General Chemistry
- General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology