6. Identifying at-risk populations for maladaptive response to prenatal stress
Vulnerability to develop stress-induced behavioral disorders may be set during fetal development, negatively affecting the manner in which individuals respond to stressful situations for the remainder of their lives. Currently, we have developed two strains of mice which display resilience or vulnerability to stress. Our research demonstrates that offspring born to stress-vulnerable mothers exposed to stress during their pregnancies respond to stressful situations in a more exaggerated, negative manner and display greater tendency to develop depressive symptoms, and our recent study focused upon the placental substrates mediating adaptation to prenatal stress found placental recruitment of the glucocorticoid receptor to present a target for the clinical evaluation of the impact of prenatal stress, which should contribute to the early diagnosis of stress-induced developmental disorders.