Maternal separation induces hippocampal changes in cadherin-1 (CDH-1) mRNA and recognition memory impairment in adolescent mice

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In rodents, disruption of mother-infant attachment induced by maternal separation (MS) is associated with recognition memory impairment and long-term neurobiological consequences. Particularly stress-induced modifications have been associated to disruption of cadherin (CDH) adhesion function, which plays an important role in remodeling of neuronal connection and synaptic plasticity. This study investigated the sex-dependent effect of MS on recognition memory and mRNA levels of classical type I and type II CDH and the related β -catenin (β -Cat) in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex of late adolescent mice. We provided evidence that the BALB/c mice exposed to MS present deficit in recognition memory, especially females. Postnatal MS induced higher hippocampal CDH-2 and CDH-8 mRNA levels, as well as an upregulation of CDH-1 in the prefrontal cortex in both males and females. MS-reared female mice presented lower CDH-1 mRNA levels in the hippocampus. In addition, hippocampal CDH-1 mRNA levels were positively correlated with recognition memory performance in females. MS-reared male mice exhibited higher β -Cat mRNA levels in the hippocampus. Considering sex-specific effects on CDH mRNA levels, it has been demonstrated mRNA changes in CDH-1, β -Cat, and CDH-6 in the hippocampus, as well as CDH-1, CDH-8 and CDH-11 in the prefrontal cortex. Overall, these findings suggest a complex interplay among MS, CDH mRNA expression, and sex differences in the PFC and hippocampus of adolescent mice.

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