Early-life adversity impacts on anxiety-related behaviors in adulthood. The effects of such adversity not only affect the animal itself, but can be passed on transgenerationally. Pervasive effects of experimentally-induced early-life stress (ELS) have been documented in adult zebrafish but it is not clear if this can be passed on via the germline. Here, we investigated the effects of ELS across three generations, by analyzing the responses of adult animals exposed to ELS in two different anxiety-related tasks, as well as in social behavior, memory, and cognition. Animals exposed to ELS (at 7 days-post-fertilization) showed a marked attenuation of specific anxiety-related behaviors (F0) as adults, and these alterations were maintained across two subsequent generations (F1 and F2). This suggest zebrafish may be a useful model organism to study the transgenerational effects of ELS, and how this pertains to (for example) neuropsychiatric disorders. In addition, our data may naturally provoke questions regarding consideration of the environment of laboratory-housed zebrafish at early developmental stages. In particular, more work may be necessary to determine how different environmental stressors could affect data variability across laboratories.
- early-life adversity
- early life stress (ELS) environment
- germline effects