Cocaine-induced inheritable epigenetic marks may be altered by changing early postnatal fostering

Duyilemi C. Ajonijebu (Lead / Corresponding author), Oualid Abboussi, Musa V. Mabandla, William M. U. Daniels

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    6 Citations (Scopus)
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    Here, we explored the hypothesis that parental cocaine exposure could alter epigenetic machinery in their drug-naive offspring while early postnatal fostering may further modify the accompanied neurochemical and functional components. Variant drug-naive pups were produced from cocaine-exposed or unexposed C57BL/6 female mice that were matched with their male counterparts for mating. Within 3 days of birth, half of the pups were cross-fostered and nurtured by non-biological lactating dams. The pups were initially examined for locomotor activity and memory performance and subsequently for changes in DNA methylation in promoter regions of cAMP response element modulator (Crem) and Fosb in the prefrontal cortex at 48 days postnatum. The impact of postnatal fostering on these parameters was also investigated. Our results showed that cocaine exposure significantly decreased both Crem and Fosb methylation in the prefrontal cortex of progenitor mice, while similar patterns of methylation were replicated in the brains of drug-naive non-fostered offspring mice but reversed by postnatal fostering. Furthermore, offspring raised by cocaine-exposed dams were impaired in discriminative learning and exhibited memory decline, whereas locomotor activity remains unaltered in all groups of mice. Our data provide some evidence that indirect exposure to cocaine may cause marked epigenetic changes within the cortical networks of drug-naive descendants and that mediation by Crem/Fosb signalling in this brain region may be beneficial, while early postnatal fostering may further engineer molecular switching that may predispose the individual to future risky behaviours as well as accumulative potential to developing cognitive impairment later in life.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1157-1165
    Number of pages9
    Issue number17
    Early online date27 Sept 2019
    Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2019


    • cocaine
    • DNA methylation
    • early postnatal fostering
    • epigenetic inheritance
    • sex differences


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