Prenatal maternal stress is associated with increased sensitivity to neuropathic pain and sex-specific changes in supraspinal mRNA expression of epigenetic- and stress-related genes in adulthood

Stéphanie Grégoire, Seon Ho Jang, Moshe Szyf, Laura S. Stone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Exposure to prenatal maternal stress impacts adult behavioral outcomes and has been suggested as a risk factor for chronic pain. However, the neurobiological mechanisms implicated are not well-characterized. In this study, we analyzed the effect of a prenatal maternal stress on the development of neuropathic pain-related behaviours and gene expression in the frontal cortex and hippocampus in adult offspring following chronic constriction injury of the sciatic nerve in male and female CD1 mice. Nerve injury-induced mechanical hypersensitivity was amplified in both male and female prenatally-stressed offspring, suggesting that prenatal stress exacerbates pain after injury. Analysis of mRNA expression of genes related to epigenetic regulation and stress responses in the frontal cortex and hippocampus, brain structures implicated in chronic pain, showed distinct sex and region-specific patterns of dysregulation. In general, mRNA expression was most frequently altered in the male hippocampus and effects of prenatal stress were more prevalent than effects of nerve injury in both supraspinal areas. These findings demonstrate the impact of prenatal stress on behavioral sensitivity to a painful injury. Changes in the expression of epigenetic- and stress-related genes suggest a possible mechanism by which the early life stress becomes embedded in the central nervous system. Increased understanding of the interactions among early-life stress, sex, and pain may lead to the identification of novel therapeutic targets and epigenetic drugs for the treatment of chronic pain disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number112396
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Volume380
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 17 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank Dr. Magali Millecamps, Dr. Elad Lax and Lucas Topham for valuable advice, The Alan Edwards Centre for Research on Pain and Lina Naso for outstanding facilities and Comparative Medicine and Animal Resources Centre at McGill University for animal care. Supported by the Ronald Melzack Fellowship from the Louise and Alan Edwards Foundation to SG, A Pfizer Canada Neuropathic Pain Research Award to LSS and MS and Canadian Institutes for Health Research Project Grant PJT- 148636 to LSS and MS.

Funding Information:
The authors thank Dr. Magali Millecamps, Dr. Elad Lax and Lucas Topham for valuable advice, The Alan Edwards Centre for Research on Pain and Lina Naso for outstanding facilities and Comparative Medicine and Animal Resources Centre at McGill University for animal care. Supported by the Ronald Melzack Fellowship from the Louise and Alan Edwards Foundation to SG, A Pfizer Canada Neuropathic Pain Research Award to LSS and MS and Canadian Institutes for Health Research Project Grant PJT- 148636 to LSS and MS. Appendix A

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Authors

Keywords

  • DNMT
  • Frontal cortex
  • HDAC
  • Hippocampus
  • Mouse
  • TET

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