Cardinal role of the environment in stress induced changes across life stages and generations.


Pang TY(1), Yaeger JDW(2), Summers CH(2), Mitra R(3).
Author information:
(1)Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, Parkville, 3052, VIC, Australia; Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience, The University of Melbourne, 3010, VIC, Australia.
(2)Department of Biology, University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD, 57069, USA; Neuroscience Group, Division of Basic Biomedical Sciences, Sanford School of Medicine, University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD, 57069, USA; Veterans Affairs Research Service, Sioux Falls VA Health Care System, Sioux Falls, SD, 57105, USA.
(3)School of Biological Sciences, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, 637551, Singapore. Electronic address: [Email]


The stress response in rodents and humans is exquisitely dependent on the environmental context. The interactive element of the environment is typically studied by creating laboratory models of stress-induced plasticity manifested in behavior or the underlying neuroendocrine mediators of the behavior. Here, we discuss three representative sets of studies where the role of the environment in mediating stress sensitivity or stress resilience is considered across varying windows of time. Collectively, these studies testify that environmental variation at an earlier time point modifies the relationship between stressor and stress response at a later stage. The metaplastic effects of the environment on the stress response remain possible across various endpoints, including behavior, neuroendocrine regulation, region-specific neural plasticity, and regulation of receptors. The timescale of such variation spans adulthood, across stages of life history and generational boundaries. Thus, environmental variables are powerful determinants of the observed diversity in stress response. The predominant role of the environment suggests that it is possible to promote stress resilience through purposeful modification of the environment.