Giving a good start to a new life via maternal brain allostatic adaptations in pregnancy

John A. Russell, Paula Brunton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Successful pregnancy requires adjustments to multiple maternal homeostatic mechanisms, governed by the maternal brain to support and enable survival of the growing fetus and placenta. Such adjustments fit the concept of allostasis (stability through change) and have a cost: allostatic load. Allostasis is driven by ovarian, anterior pituitary, placental and feto-placental hormones acting on the maternal brain to promote adaptations that support the pregnancy and protect the fetus. Many women carry an existing allostatic load into pregnancy, from socio-economic circumstances, poor mental health and in 'developed' countries, also from obesity. These pregnancies have poorer outcomes indicating negative interactions (failing allostasis) between pre-pregnancy and pregnancy allostatic loads. Use of animal models, such as adult prenatally stressed female offspring with abnormal neuroendocrine, metabolic and behavioural phenotypes, to probe gene expression changes, and epigenetic mechanisms in the maternal brain in adverse pregnancies are discussed, with the prospect of ameliorating poor pregnancy outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFrontiers in neuroendocrinology
Early online date22 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019
EventParental Brain 2018: Biological and Behavioural Perspectives in Parental Health - Westin Harbour Castle Hotel, Toronto, Canada
Duration: 13 Jul 201814 Jul 2018


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