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Increased Body Weight in Adulthood Following a Peripubertal Stressor and Proposed Mechanism for Effects of Increased Adiposity on Estrogen-dependent Behaviors

Exposure to certain stressors during a sensitive period around puberty can lead to enduring effects on an animal’s response to estradiol. In estradiol-influenced behaviors, such as sexual receptivity, hippocampal-dependent learning and memory, depression-like behavior, and anxiety-like behaviors, exposure to a peripubertal stressor such as shipping stress or an injection of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) can eliminate or even reverse the normal response to estradiol. In addition to regulating these behaviors, estradiol play a role in the regulation of body weight. While some of the previous studies touched on short-term effects on body weight, no systemic long-term study of the effects of a peripubertal stressor on body weight, particularly without interruption by ovariectomy, have been undertaken. This paper introduces a hypothesis that proposes that increased adiposity following exposure to a peripubertal stressor leads to the changes to estrogen-dependent behaviors through altered levels of estrogens and changes to estrogen receptors. The first chapter examines body weight data collected during studies with other aims, and then proposes an experiment to test whether either of two peripubertal stressors results in increased weight gain and body weight. The following chapter proposes further experiments designed to determine the proximate mechanisms leading to weight gain following peripubertal stressors and the role of diet on weight gain. The final chapter proposes experiments to test the effects of adiposity on peripheral levels of testosterone, aromatase, estradiol, and estrone; central levels of estradiol and estrone; and estrogen receptors in the brain.
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