Early life stress induces submissive behavior in adult rats

Dmitry Frank, Alexander Zlotnik, Ora Kofman, Julia Grinshpun, Olena Severynovska, Evgeni Brotfain, Ruslan Kut, Dmitry Natanel, Israel Melamed, Matthew Boyko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Maternal-deprivation of rodent pups is a relevant model of extreme early-life stress that can be relevant to the understanding of long-term effects of war, migration, parental loss and displacement. Although even mild stress during infancy affects brain development and behavior, the current study focused on the effects of six hour daily maternal-separation, a model that reflects the severe distress often experienced in those circumstances. This study emphasizes the effect of maternal separation on social behavior in the context of a variety of factors that measure cognitive and emotional behavior which were subject to principle component analysis. Sprague-Dawley pups were separated from the dam for 6 h each day during the first 3-weeks of life and underwent a battery of behavioral tests at 3-months of age. We found that rodents exposed to postnatal maternal deprivation displayed submissive behavior in resident-intruder and dominant-submissive tests, as well as significantly more anxiety and anhedonia than control rats. The results of multivariate statistical analysis show that the dominant-submissive behavior correlates with depressive, anxiety and social behavior and can be predicted with an accuracy of 86.2%. The increased submissive behavior in male rats that had been subjected to severe postnatal stress suggests that exposure to stress during infancy and childhood could have long-term effects on social relationships. The mechanism of the long-term effects on depression, anxiety and submissive behavior requires further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112025
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
StatePublished - 17 Oct 2019


  • anxiety
  • maternal deprivation
  • social dominance
  • stress
  • submissive behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Early life stress induces submissive behavior in adult rats'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this