Silva-Almeida, C., Muniz, S. C. A., Jobim, C. M. N. et al. 2024. Perinatal environmental enrichment changes anxiety-like behaviours in mice and produces similar intergenerational benefits in offspring. Behavioural Brain Research 456, 114700.

Environmental enrichment implemented in early life is able to induce long-term changes in gene expression, synaptic function and behavioural responses. In this study, we evaluated the adult behavioural effects of perinatal environment enrichment in male and female mice (PEE), as well as the males and females of PEE male offspring (OPEE). For this purpose, animals were submitted to the following battery of behavioural analyses: elevated plus maze, open field test, light-dark box and novelty suppression feeding test. The frontal cortex and ventral hippocampus of PEE mice were collected for the evaluation of the expression of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-related genes. The PEE animals showed an increase in exploratory activity, associated with a reduction in anxiety-like behaviours on the elevated plus maze; this effect was mainly observed in males. Additionally, the male OPEE showed a reduction in anxiety-like behaviours on the elevated plus maze, mainly observed in a reduction of risk assessment-related behaviours. The PEE male mice also showed reduced expression of Gabra3 in the ventral hippocampus when compared to the control group. These results demonstrate that perinatal environmental enrichment promotes a reduction in anxiety-like behaviour that can be transferred intergenerationally.

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