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Description: Adverse early life events are a well-established risk factor for the precipitation of behavioral disorders characterized by anomalies in the dopaminergic system, such as schizophrenia and addiction. The correlation between early life conditions and the dopaminergic system has been causally investigated in more than 90 rodent publications. Here, we tested the validity of the hypothesis that early life stress (ELS) alters dopamine signaling by performing an extensive 3-level mixed effect meta-analysis. We included several ELS models and biochemical indicators of the dopaminergic system in a variety of brain areas, for a total of 1009 comparisons. Contrary to our expectations, only a few comparisons displayed a significant effect. Specifically, the striatal area was the most vulnerable, displaying decreased dopamine precursor and increased metabolites after ELS. To make all data openly accessible, we created the MaDEapp, a tool to explore data of the meta-analysis with the intent to guide future (pre)clinical research and allow power calculations. All in all, ELS causes a few yet robust changes on biochemical indicators of the dopaminergic system.

License: CC-By Attribution 4.0 International

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