Parental olfactory experience influences behavior and neural structure in subsequent generations.

Bibliographic Collection: 
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Dias, Brian G; Ressler, Kerry J
Year of Publication: 2014
Journal: Nat Neurosci
Volume: 17
Issue: 1
Pagination: 89-96
Date Published: 2014 Jan
Publication Language: eng
ISSN: 1546-1726
Keywords: 1-Propanol, Acetophenones, Acoustic Stimulation, Analysis of Variance, Animals, beta-Galactosidase, Chromatin Immunoprecipitation, Conditioning, Classical, Electroshock, Epigenomics, Fear, Female, Glycine, Male, Mice, Mice, Transgenic, Odors, Olfactory Pathways, Paternal Exposure, Pregnancy, Receptors, Odorant, Reflex, Startle, Sensory Receptor Cells, Smell, Spermatozoa

Using olfactory molecular specificity, we examined the inheritance of parental traumatic exposure, a phenomenon that has been frequently observed, but not understood. We subjected F0 mice to odor fear conditioning before conception and found that subsequently conceived F1 and F2 generations had an increased behavioral sensitivity to the F0-conditioned odor, but not to other odors. When an odor (acetophenone) that activates a known odorant receptor (Olfr151) was used to condition F0 mice, the behavioral sensitivity of the F1 and F2 generations to acetophenone was complemented by an enhanced neuroanatomical representation of the Olfr151 pathway. Bisulfite sequencing of sperm DNA from conditioned F0 males and F1 naive offspring revealed CpG hypomethylation in the Olfr151 gene. In addition, in vitro fertilization, F2 inheritance and cross-fostering revealed that these transgenerational effects are inherited via parental gametes. Our findings provide a framework for addressing how environmental information may be inherited transgenerationally at behavioral, neuroanatomical and epigenetic levels.

DOI: 10.1038/nn.3594
Alternate Journal: Nat. Neurosci.