Parental olfactory experience influences behavior and neural structure in subsequent generations

We examined the inheritance of parental traumatic exposure, a phenomenon that has been frequently observed, but not understood

Brian G Dias; Kerry J Ressler

2013

Scholarcy highlights

  • Using olfactory molecular specificity, we examined the inheritance of parental traumatic exposure, a phenomenon that has been frequently observed, but not understood
  • We examined whether olfactory fear conditioning of the F0 generation leads subsequently conceived adult F1, F2 and in vitro fertilization-derived generations to exhibit F0-like behavioral sensitivity toward the F0 conditioned odor, and whether there were neuroanatomical changes at the level of the main olfactory epithelium and olfactory bulb in these generations
  • The odors that we used were chosen on the basis of prior work demonstrating that the M71 odorant receptors expressed by olfactory sensory neurons in the MOE are activated by acetophenone
  • In the F0 generation, we previously reported that olfactory fear conditioning adult males to acetophenone increases Fear-potentiated startle when the startle stimuli are paired with acetophenone presentation
  • We found that the F1 and F2 generations were extremely sensitive to the specific odors used to condition F0 mice
  • Using a transgenic mouse in which OSNs expressing a specific odorant receptor can be visualized, we found that the behavioral sensitivity was accompanied by an altered olfactory neuroanatomy for the conditioned odor
  • Given that our data suggests a biological inheritance of our behavioral and structural effects via parental gametes, we sought to examine sperm of the F0 generation males for epigenetic clues that might explain an enhanced representation for the M71 receptor

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