In contrast, Wistar dams appear to have higher aggression levels, and females exposed to defeat showed increased floating in the forced swim test and sucrose anhedonia [ ]. An intriguing alternative approach is examination of more ethological measures of behavior. Adolescent stress also increases behavioral sensitivity to drugs of abuse, and this effect is stronger in female rats than in males [ 98 ]. In general, CMS reduced sucrose consumption in both males and females. Some of the man-made chemicals routinely used worldwide mimic endogenous hormones.
Examples of stressors include changes of cage mates, exposure to cold temperatures, and disruption of light cycles. On average, it appears that males are more sensitive to glucocorticoids during prenatal development, which is consistent with the findings from clinical studies reporting that maternal depression during or after pregnancy has stronger effects on anxiety in boys than in girls [ 92 ] Increased corticosterone levels in the mother can also impact postnatal development. Not surprisingly, environmental sex differentiation is ubiquitous in fish. One of the most common responses to CMS is anhedonia, or reduced interest in rewards, such as sucrose, high-fat food, or sex. Gulf pipefish Syngnathus scovelli possess sex-role reversal in that females must compete for a limited number of males to carry fertilized eggs. Perinatal exposure to vinclozolin or flutamide eliminates male-typical social play behaviors in Sprague Dawley juvenile male rats [ 87 ]. Divergent results may be a result of genetic variability across genetic lines. Intriguingly, when the mother is exposed to psychosocial stress during pregnancy, stronger effects are observed in male offspring, whereas the effects of psychosocial stress during adolescence or after sexual maturity are usually stronger in females. Future studies could also consider the impact of postnatal corticosterone exposure on longer-lasting stressors, such as chronic variable stress or social defeat. Some of the man-made chemicals routinely used worldwide mimic endogenous hormones. However, EE-treated males exhibited female-like secondary sexual traits, and mate choice trials have revealed that females, which are typically not the choosier sex in this species, selectively reject these males [ 82 ]. In California mice, defeat stress has very different long-term effects on behavior and the HPA axis in males and females. One drawback, however, is that it has been very difficult to study sex differences, because female rats and mice are generally not aggressive toward other females. For example, several lab groups have observed that CMS reduces male sexual behavior in rats [ — ]. CMS consists of a combination of physical and low-level social stressors administered in an unpredictable order [ ]. In ovo exposure of Japanese quail Coturnix japonica to EE leads to later depression of male sexual behaviors [ 84 ]. Males but not females had suppressed neurogenesis in the hippocampus [ 94 ], which is thought to be an important mechanism conferring resilience to the long-term effects of stress [ 95 ]. Other rodent species such as Syrian hamsters Mesocricetus auratus and California mice Peromyscus californicus allow for more direct comparisons of males and females because their intrafemale aggression levels are higher and females will engage in aggression in the absence of pups. In this study, postnatal corticosterone exposure had no effects on behavior in the forced swim test, which is a short-term behavioral response. Interestingly, many of the behavioral and neurobiological phenotypes observed in individuals that lose aggressive encounters are evolutionarily conserved [ , ]. Floating in this test is considered to be a measure of behavioral despair because drugs with antidepressant properties reduce floating and increase swimming [ 90 ]. Fish display a remarkable ability to postpone the labile period. Besides postponement, some primary and tertiary gonochores have two distinct labile periods amenable to temperature and hormonal manipulations. In contrast, Wistar dams appear to have higher aggression levels, and females exposed to defeat showed increased floating in the forced swim test and sucrose anhedonia [ ]. Adolescent stress also increases behavioral sensitivity to drugs of abuse, and this effect is stronger in female rats than in males [ 98 ].
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