Proteomic Investigation of the Hippocampus in Prenatally Stressed Mice Implicates Changes in Membrane Trafficking, Cytoskeletal, and Metabolic Function

Melanie Foecking*, Rianne Opstelten, Jos Prickaerts, Harry W. M. Steinbusch, Michael J. Dunn, Daniel L. A. van den Hove, David R. Cotter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Prenatal stress influences the development of the fetal brain and so contributes to the risk of the development of psychiatric disorders in later life. The hippocampus is particularly sensitive to prenatal stress, and robust abnormalities have been described in the hippocampus in schizophrenia and depression. The aim of this study was to determine whether prenatal stress is associated with distinct patterns of differential protein expression in the hippocampus using a validated mouse model. We therefore performed a comparative proteomic study assessing female hippocampal samples from 8 prenatally stressed mice and 8 control mice. Differential protein expression was assessed using 2-dimensional difference in gel electrophoresis and subsequent mass spectrometry. The observed changes in a selected group of differentially expressed proteins were confirmed by Western blotting. In comparison to controls, 47 protein spots (38 individual proteins) were found to be differentially expressed in the hippocampus of prenatally stressed mice. Functional grouping of these proteins revealed that prenatal stress influenced the expression of proteins involved in brain development, cytoskeletal composition, stress response, and energy metabolism. Western blotting was utilized to validate the changes in calretinin, hippocalcin, profilin-1 and the signal-transducing adaptor molecule STAM1. Septin-5 could not be validated via Western blotting due to methodological issues. Closer investigation of the validated proteins also pointed to an interesting role for membrane trafficking deficits mediated by prenatal stress. Our findings demonstrate that prenatal stress leads to altered hippocampal protein expression, implicating numerous molecular pathways that may provide new targets for psychotropic drug development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)432-442
JournalDevelopmental Neuroscience
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Proteomics
  • 2-Dimensional difference in gel electrophoresis
  • Hippocampus
  • Prenatal maternal stress
  • Trafficking

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