Uncovering the relationship underlying postpartum depression and alcohol use
Postpartum depression (PPD) is an onset of a major depressive episode during the period
around childbirth, affecting 5-30% of women. Epidemiological data suggests that women
with a history of drug and alcohol use are more vulnerable to being diagnosed with PPD
and women with PPD are more likely to relapse. In addition, evidence suggests that binge
drinking by the dams may negatively... read moreimpact the fetus. However, determining whether there
is a direct relationship between postpartum depression and alcohol abuse is difficult to
assess in the clinical population. Thus, the aim of this study is to investigate the
interrelationship between postpartum alcohol use and PPD and the potential impact on
offspring behavior. Given previous findings from the lab which suggested the role of HPA
axis dysregulation in the development of maternal care deficits, we hypothesized that
HPA axis dysregulation drives this reversible relationship. To study this, we used 2
novel genetic models of PPD that show dysregulated HPA axis function during the
peripartum period. We subjected these models to a heavy binge drinking paradigm to
determine whether mice exhibiting PPD-like behaviors exhibited an altered preference for
alcohol (20%v/v) and how short-term alcohol exposure altered PPD-like behavior in
control mice. Finally, we investigated whether binge drinking during pregnancy altered
anxiety-like behavior in their offspring. Short term binge drinking altered maternal
behavior in control animals at baseline and following stress, but did not disrupt normal
anxiety- or depressive-like behaviors. Interestingly, all PPD and wildtype mice reduced
their preference for alcohol after parturition and anxiety-like behaviors were not
affected in the offspring. These findings suggest that alcohol exposure results in
neural adaptation in the wildtype dams causing them to display abnormal maternal
Thesis (M.S.)--Tufts University, 2018.
Submitted to the Dept. of Pharmacology and Drug Development.
Advisor: Jamie Maguire.
Committee: Jamie Maguire, and Klaus Miczek.
Keywords: Pharmacology, Neurosciences, and Behavioral sciences.read less