Numerous epidemiological observations in pregnant women have shown a correlation between the stresses experienced during gestation and the consequences on the offspring: miscarriages, premature births, low body weight (Seckl, 2004). This led to the development of the concept of Developmental Origin of Health and Diseases (DOHaD). Since research on humans is difficult to implement, we have animal models that allow us to further develop this concept. More specifically, we want to study how exposure to a harmful environment during early life can program the predisposition of the offspring to pathologies likely to occur throughout life and even to be transmitted through generations.

The perinatal stress model in rats, developed by Prof. Maccari in 1995, consists in subjecting pregnant rats to restraint stress. The animals born from stressed mothers (PRS, Prenatal Restraint Stress) will present an anxious/depressive phenotype (Maccari et al., 1995) characterized by :

  •   Neuroendocrine dysregulations, particularly in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis
  •   Alterations of circadian rhythms
  •   Alterations in behavior