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Early stress evokes age-dependent biphasic changes in hippocampal neurogenesis, epigenetic regulation of the bdnf gene, and cognitive behavior

Molecular Cytogenetics20147 (Suppl 1) :I38

  • Published:


  • Cognitive Performance
  • Epigenetic Regulation
  • Stress Exposure
  • Hippocampal Neurogenesis
  • Behavioral Level

An experience of stress in early life is predominantly associated with negative consequences including increased anxiety and depressive behavior, as well as a failure to mount appropriate stress responses. It has remained a source of debate whether early stress also evokes potentially adaptive consequences that equip animals to cope better with their environment. We have shown that early stress exposure facilitates transient, adaptive changes in hippocampal neurogenesis, enhanced trophic factor expression and improved cognitive performance, thus providing possible competitive advantages in stressful environments. However, middle-aged animals with a history of early stress exhibit aladaptive effects on hippocampal neurogenesis, reduced trophic factor expression and impairments in cognitive performance. Our study provides novel insights into the short and long-term consequences of early stress, demonstrating biphasic, as well as unique, age-dependent changes at the molecular, epigenetic, neurogenic and behavioral level. These results compel a reappraisal of the traditional notion that early stress is deterministic for future negative outcomes. Our studies suggest that when observed across a life-span, early stress experience evokes both adaptive as well as maladaptive changes that emerge in a temporally regulated manner, with early adaptive outcomes that may eventually exert a high cost, evoking maladaptive consequences.

Authors’ Affiliations

Department of Biological Sciences, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, India


© Vaidya; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2014

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.