Early life stress and susceptibility to addiction in adolescence

K. E. Tschetter, L. B. Callahan, S. A. Flynn, S. Rahman, T. P. Beresford, P. J. Ronan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

5 Scopus citations


Early life stress (ELS) is a risk factor for developing a host of psychiatric disorders. Adolescence is a particularly vulnerable period for the onset of these disorders and substance use disorders (SUDs). Here we discuss ELS and its effects in adolescence, especially SUDs, and their correlates with molecular changes to signaling systems in reward and stress neurocircuits. Using a maternal separation (MS) model of neonatal ELS, we studied a range of behaviors that comprise a “drug-seeking” phenotype. We then investigated potential mechanisms underlying the development of this phenotype. Corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) and serotonin (5-HT) are widely believed to be involved in “stress-induced” disorders, including addiction. Here, we show that ELS leads to the development of a drug-seeking phenotype indicative of increased susceptibility to addiction and concomitant sex-dependent upregulation of CRF and 5-HT system components throughout extended brain reward/stress neurocircuits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEffects of Peri-Adolescent Licit and Illicit Drug Use on the Developing CNS Part II
EditorsRichard L. Bell, Shafiqur Rahman
PublisherAcademic Press Inc.
Number of pages26
ISBN (Print)9780323992602
StatePublished - Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameInternational Review of Neurobiology
ISSN (Print)0074-7742
ISSN (Electronic)2162-5514


  • Addiction
  • Adolescence
  • Corticotropin releasing factor
  • Drug-seeking
  • Early life stress
  • Maternal separation
  • Serotonin
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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