Li, Yingchun and Rong, Jing and Zhong, Haiquan and Liang, Min and Zhu,Chunting and Chang, Fei and Zhou, Rong
Prenatal stress (PRS) had a long-term adverse effect on motor behaviors. Corticostriatal synaptic plasticity, a cellular basis for motor controlling, has been proven to participate in the pathogenesis of many behavior disorders. Based on the reports about the involvement of epigenetic DNA alterations in PRS-induced long-term effects, this research investigated the influence of PRS on the development and maturation of corticostriatal synaptic plasticity and related behaviors and explored the underlying epigenetic mechanism. Subjects were male offspring of dams that were exposed to stress three times per day from the 10th day of pregnancy until delivery. The development and maturation of plasticity at corticostriatal synapses, dopamine signaling, behavioral habituation, and DNA methylation were examined and analyzed. Control mice expressed long-term potentiation (LTP) at corticostriatal synapses during postnatal days (PD) 12-14 and produced long-term depression (LTD) during PD 20-60. However, PRS mice exhibited sustained LTP during PD 12-60. The treatment with dopamine 2 receptor (D2R) agonist quinpirole recovered striatal LTD and improved the impaired behavioral habituation in PD 45 adult PRS mice. Additionally, adult PRS mice showed reduced D2R, excess DNA methyltransferase 1 (DNMT1), increased binding of DNMT1 to D2R promoter, and hypermethylation at D2R promoter in the striatum. The DNMT1 inhibitor 5-aza-deoxycytidine restored striatal synaptic plasticity and improved behavioral habituation in adult PRS mice via D2R-mediated dopamine signaling. DNMT1-associated D2R hypermethylation is responsible for altering the maturation of plasticity at corticostriatal synapses and impairing the behavioral habituation in PRS mice.