2022 journal article

Individual and Combined Effects of Paternal Deprivation and Developmental Exposure to Firemaster 550 on Socio-Emotional Behavior in Prairie Voles

TOXICS, 10(5).

By: S. Gillera, W. Marinello, M. Nelson n, B. Horman & H. Patisaul

author keywords: endocrine disruptors; flame retardants; sexual differentiation; pair bond
Source: Web Of Science
Added: June 13, 2022

The prevalence of neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) is rapidly rising, suggesting a confluence of environmental factors that are likely contributing, including developmental exposure to environmental contaminants. Unfortunately, chemical exposures and social stressors frequently occur simultaneously in many communities, yet very few studies have sought to establish the combined effects on neurodevelopment or behavior. Social deficits are common to many NDDs, and we and others have shown that exposure to the chemical flame retardant mixture, Firemaster 550 (FM 550), or paternal deprivation impairs social behavior and neural function. Here, we used a spontaneously prosocial animal model, the prairie vole (Microtus ochrogaster), to explore the effects of perinatal chemical (FM 550) exposure alone or in combination with an early life stressor (paternal absence) on prosocial behavior. Dams were exposed to vehicle (sesame oil) or 1000 µg FM 550 orally via food treats from conception through weaning and the paternal absence groups were generated by removing the sires the day after birth. Adult offspring of both sexes were then subjected to open-field, sociability, and a partner preference test. Paternal deprivation (PD)-related effects included increased anxiety, decreased sociability, and impaired pair-bonding in both sexes. FM 550 effects include heightened anxiety and partner preference in females but reduced partner preference in males. The combination of FM 550 exposure and PD did not exacerbate any behaviors in either sex except for distance traveled by females in the partner preference test and, to a lesser extent, time spent with, and the number of visits to the non-social stimulus by males in the sociability test. FM 550 ameliorated the impacts of parental deprivation on partner preference behaviors in both sexes. This study is significant because it provides evidence that chemical and social stressors can have unique behavioral effects that differ by sex but may not produce worse outcomes in combination.