Maternal stress produces learning deficits associated with impairment of NMDA receptor-mediated synaptic plasticity

Hoon Son Gi, Dongho Geum, Sooyoung Chung, Joo Kim Eun, Ji Hoon Jo, Chang Mee Kim, Ho Lee Kun, Hyun Kim, Sukwoo Choi, Taek Kim Hyun, Chang Joong Lee, Kyungjin Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

148 Scopus citations


Stress in adulthood can have a profound effect on physiology and behavior, but the extent to which prolonged maternal stress affects the brain function of offspring when they are adult remains primarily unknown. In the present work, chronic immobilization stress to pregnant mice affected fetal growth and development. When pups born from stressed mice were reared to adulthood in an environment identical to that of nonstressed controls, several physiological parameters were essentially unaltered. However, spatial learning and memory was significantly impaired in the maternally stressed offspring in adulthood. Furthermore, electrophysiological examination revealed a significant reduction in NMDA receptor-mediated long-term potentiation in the CA1 area of hippocampal slices. Subsequent biochemical analysis demonstrated a substantial decrease in NR1 and NR2B subunits of the NMDA receptor in synapses of the hippocampus, and the interaction between these two subunits appeared to be reduced. These results suggest that prolonged maternal stress leads to long-lasting malfunction of the hippocampus, which extends to and is manifested in adulthood.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3309-3318
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number12
StatePublished - 22 Mar 2006


  • Hippocampus
  • LTP
  • Learning and memory
  • Long-term potentiation
  • Maternal stress
  • NMDA receptor
  • Synaptic plasticity


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