Indexed on: 17 Feb '18Published on: 17 Feb '18Published in: Stress (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
Adolescence is a distinct developmental period characterized by behavioral and physiological maturation. Rapid ongoing changes during neurodevelopment in particular present potential opportunities for stress to have lasting effects on longitudinal outcomes of behavioral and neuroendocrine function. While adult stress effects on outcomes during adulthood have been characterized, little is known about the lasting effects of adolescent repeated stressor exposure on outcomes during adolescence. We have previously reported different stress responses in adolescent rats relative to adult rats, including a blunted fear response outcome in adulthood in rats stressed during adolescence. The present study characterized the ontogeny of behavioral and neuroendocrine responses to eight underwater trauma (UWT) exposures in rats over a two week poststress time period during adolescence (P34) or adulthood (P83) relative to age-matched control groups that underwent eight swimming episodes without UWT. Repeated UWT exposures starting in adolescence, but not adulthood, resulted in adverse behavioral responses on the elevated plus maze 1 day post-stress. Corticosterone responses did not differ between UWT-exposed and controls for either age group at 1 day or at 7 days poststress, although there was an effect of age on corticosterone levels. We conclude that repeated UWT stress events have a lasting, negative behavioral effect on adolescent rats that is not observed in adult rats after the two-week exposure window. These results suggest that neurophysiological mechanisms underlying recovery from a repeated stressor are immature in adolescence relative to adulthood in rats.