Prenatal stress alters immune function in the offspring of rats

Sabra L. Klein, Dawn R. Rager

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Pregnant rats were either exposed to restraint under bright lights for 45 min three times daily (n = 7) or were left undisturbed (n = 8) during Days 14–21 of gestation. Offspring were tested for cellular immune responses as measured by Concanavalin A‐stimulated proliferation and Natural Killer (NK) cytotoxicity of splenocytes as juveniles or adults, or were tested for specific humoral immune responses to in vivo challenge with the antigen Keyhole Limpet Hemocyanin (KLH) as adults. Results indicated that: (a) Proliferation did not vary as a function of sex or prenatal treatment in either juvenile or adult offspring; (b) in juveniles NK cytotoxicity was marginally lower in males as compared to females, and was also marginally reduced by prenatal stress in males but not females, whereas in adults, NK cytotoxicity was marginally enhanced by prenatal stress in both sexes; and (c) prenatally stressed offspring of both sexes had higher levels of anti‐KLH antibodies as compared to controls. © 1995 Johnv Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-336
Number of pages16
JournalDevelopmental Psychobiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Developmental Biology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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