PloS one

Effects of an early experience of reward through maternal contact or its denial on laterality of protein expression in the developing rat hippocampus.

PMID 23118990


Laterality is a basic characteristic of the brain which is detectable early in life. Although early experiences affect laterality of the mature brain, there are no reports on their immediate neurochemical effects during neonatal life, which could provide evidence as to the mechanisms leading to the lateralized brain. In order to address this issue, we determined the differential protein expression profile of the left and right hippocampus of 13-day-old rat control (CTR) pups, as well as following exposure to an early experience involving either receipt (RER) or denial (DER) of the expected reward of maternal contact. Proteomic analysis was performed by 2-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (PAGE) followed by mass spectroscopy. The majority of proteins found to be differentially expressed either between the three experimental groups (DER, RER, CTR) or between the left and right hemisphere were cytoskeletal (34%), enzymes of energy metabolism (32%), and heat shock proteins (17%). In all three groups more proteins were up-regulated in the left compared to the right hippocampus. Tubulins were found to be most often up-regulated, always in the left hippocampus. The differential expression of β-tubulin, β-actin, dihydropyrimidinase like protein 1, glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and Heat Shock protein 70 revealed by the proteomic analysis was in general confirmed by Western blots. Exposure to the early experience affected brain asymmetry: In the RER pups the ratio of proteins up-regulated in the left hippocampus to those in the right was 1.8, while the respective ratio was 3.6 in the CTR and 3.4 in the DER. Our results could contribute to the elucidation of the cellular mechanisms mediating the effects of early experiences on the vulnerability for psychopathology, since proteins shown in our study to be differentially expressed (e.g. tubulins, dihydropyrimidinase like proteins, 14-3-3 protein, GFAP, ATP synthase, α-internexin) have also been identified in proteomic analyses of post-mortem brains from psychiatric patients.