Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




Experimental Psychology

Committee Chair

Helen Sable

Committee Member

Melloni Cook

Committee Member

Charles Lessman

Committee Member

James Murphy


Exposure to the potent synthetic estrogenic compound diethylstilbestrol (DES) during early development has been found to elicit numerous detrimental effects. Prescribed to millions of pregnant women from the 1930s to the 1970s, it has been shown that exposure to DES caused significant reproductive organ abnormalities and dysfunction in both men and women (DES sons and daughters, respectively) who were exposed in utero. A high incidence of psychiatric disorders has also been reported, primarily in adult DES daughters. Because of estrogen's well-known influence on emotion, it has been suggested that exposure to this estrogenic compound may be able to disturb the normal regulation of behaviors modulated by estrogen and estrogen receptors (i.e., emotion-related behaviors). The current study investigated the effects of gestational DES exposure on anxiety- and depressive-related behaviors during adulthood in female mice. Pregnant C57Bl/6 mice were exposed to either vehicle or one of three doses of DES (.1, 1.0, or 10.0µg/kg/day) from gestational day 11 to 17 via oral gavage. Because there have been no published reports examining the possible effects of DES exposure during pregnancy on the enhancement of postpartum depression and anxiety, associated behaviors in the dams were also assessed. Following parturition, all dams were ovariectomized. Three female offspring were retained from each litter at weaning. When the offspring reached adulthood, one female was ovariectomized, one had a sham surgery, and one served as the intact control. Two weeks after surgery (or at a similar age in the intact mice), anxiety- and depression-like behaviors were assessed using the Elevated Zero Maze, Open Field, Tail Suspension, and Forced Swim Tests. Overall, the results for this study revealed that exposure to DES during late pregnancy did not provoke a significant influence over anxiety- and depressive-like behaviors in dams or female offspring.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.