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Altered gene-expression profile in rat plasma and promoted body and brain development by environmental enrichment

Xiangeng Zhang
Hui Zhang
Dezhong Peng
Lin Lin
Jing Gao
Yiqing Yang
Qin Liu
Hongyan Wang
Yujia Mao
Miqu Wang


Environmental enrichment (EE) refers to the exposure of laboratory animals to physical and social stimulation, which can improve animals’ well-being. The study was aimed to explore how the prenatal EE impacts affect the development, behavior, hormones and gene expression of the offspring. 28 pregnant rats were randomized into an EE group (EEG) housed in cages with EE or a control group (CG) housed in normal cages. Measurements included offspring development parameters (body weight, body length, and tail length) and behavior (open-field test, OFT), hormone levels (cortisol, dopamine, 5-HT, and growth hormone) and gene expression profile. Results showed that the development parameters of EEG offspring were statistically superior to the CG offspring. OFT count of EEG offspring was more than CG. EEG and CG offspring did not differ on cortisol, dopamine, 5-HT or growth factor. Gene expression profile chip test showed that 25 genes were up-regulated and 23 genes down-regulated in the EEG vs CG comparison, among which five GO annotations and four KEGG pathways were annotated. Findings indicate that EE during pregnancy could positively promote the body and nervous system development of offspring, involving the evidence for altered gene expression profile.

Keywords: Environmental enrichment, rats, gene expression, behavior, development

African Journal of Biotechnology Vol. 12(20), pp. 3071-3082