The Meaning of Weaning: Influence of the Weaning Period on Behavioral Development in MiceCurley J.P. · Jordan E.R. · Swaney W.T. · Izraelit A. · Kammel S. · Champagne F.A.
Department of Psychology, Columbia University, New York, N.Y., USA
Dr. Frances A. Champagne
Department of Psychology, Columbia University
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Maternal care during the first week postpartum has long-term consequences for offspring development in rodents. However, mother-infant interactions continue well beyond this period, with several physiological and behavioral changes occurring between days 18 and 28 PN. In the present study, we investigate the long-term effects on offspring behavior of being weaned at day 21 PN versus day 28 PN. We found that male and female offspring engage in higher initial levels of social interaction if weaned at day 28 PN, as well as sexually dimorphic changes in exploratory behavior. Females who were themselves weaned earlier also appeared to wean their own pups earlier. Sex-specific effects of weaning age were found on levels of oxytocin and vasopressin V1a receptor density in the hypothalamus, central nucleus of the amygdala and nucleus accumbens. These results indicate that altering weaning age in mice may be a useful model for investigating the development of sexual dimorphism in neurobiology and behavior.
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