Stressed mice sire anxious daughters

August 23rd, 2012 - 4:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Aug 23 (IANS) Could some traits pass to daughters and escape sons altogether? Researchers at the Tufts University School of Medicine have evidence from experiments on mice to support such a premise.

Adolescent mice exposed to chronic social stress, where their cage composition is constantly changing, exhibit anxiety and poor social interactions through adulthood.

“These changes were especially prominent in female mice,” said Lorena Saavedra-Rodriguez, postdoctoral fellow at the Larry Feig lab at Tufts University School of Medicine and study co-author.

Researchers then studied the offspring of these stressed mice and observed that again female, but not male, offspring exhibited elevated anxiety and poor social interactions, the journal Biological Psychiatry reports

Notably, even though the stressed males did not express any of these altered behaviours, they passed on these behaviours to their female offspring after being mated to non-stressed females.

Moreover, the male offspring passed on these behaviours to yet another generation of female offspring, according to a Tufts statement.

“We are presently searching for biochemical changes in the sperm of stressed fathers that could account for this newly appreciated form of inheritance,” said senior study author Larry A. Feig, professor of biochemistry at Tufts School of Medicine.

“Hopefully, this work will stimulate efforts to determine whether similar phenomena occur in humans,” he said.

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