Rachel E. Schroeder


“Impacts of chronic prenatal stress on maternal and offspring outcomes, and the mitigating effects of P7C3 compounds”


Stress experienced during pregnancy is known to increase the risk for the baby to develop disorders later in life such as autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), learning disorders, and mood disorders. The same is true for stress-related mood disorders such as anxiety and depression, and due to the dramatic hormonal changes pregnancy causes, perinatal women tend to be more susceptible to developing mood disorders. Unfortunately, the medical field is limited in how they can treat stress, anxiety, and depression during pregnancy because of concerns that medications could also impact the baby’s brain development. The goal of this dissertation was to use a mouse model to test whether a new compound, P7C3-A20, could be used to treat stress during pregnancy and protect the baby’s brain development.

This dissertation shows that many of the changes to the baby’s brain and behavior caused by stress during pregnancy can be fixed by giving the mother P7C3-A20. For example, this project was the first to find that in the developing brain, important enzymes for energy metabolism are disrupted by maternal stress during pregnancy, which P7C3-A20 corrects.

Overall, this dissertation shows promise for the compound P7C3-A20 to be able to protect a developing baby’s brain development if the mother is experiencing stress during her pregnancy. It also opens the door for a new area of research into how the enzymes involved in energy metabolism play a role both in normal development and in cases when development is disrupted by environmental factors experienced by the mother.

Current position:
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Dept. of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics (Taylor lab), University of Iowa
Rachel Schroeder
Ankeny, IA
BA, Wartburg College