Session: 9

PS9-04 | Effects of early-life stress due to infant maltreatment on hippocampal physiology in juvenile rats

Ailen Alba Colapietro

Laboratorio de Programación Perinatal del Neurodesarrollo / Instituto de Biología Celular y Neurociencias “Prof. E. De Robertis” / Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Buenos Aires

Childhood maltreatment from the caregiver is associated with adverse brain development and increases the vulnerability to develop psychopathologies in later life. One of the brain structures most affected by infant maltreatment is the hippocampus (HPC). It contains high levels of stress hormone receptors, being an important modulator of the response mediated by the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. In addition, since its maturation occurs during early childhood, the HPC is highly sensitive to stressful conditions such as infant maltreatment. The disturbance of the HPC causes cognitive and emotional disorders such as depression and post-traumatic stress. However, the current evidence on the effects of infant maltreatment focuses mainly on adults, whereas the effects at earlier ages are still poorly studied. Therefore, the aim of this project is to analyze, at the behavioral and molecular level, the impact of infant maltreatment on the hippocampal physiology of juvenile individuals using a model of infant maltreatment in rats. Our hypothesis holds that maltreatment during early childhood leads to modifications in the structure and function of the still developing HPC, resulting in behavioral and cognitive alterations that may be perceptible during the juvenile stages of the individual’s life. Exploring the impact of child maltreatment on young individuals might help to the development of early interventions that seek to improve their health and quality of life.