Abstract Prenatal stress (PNS) has gained attention with regard to its impact on hippocampal neurogenesis in neonates which serves as a risk factor for postnatal neurodevelopmental deficits. Evidences from animal models have suggested that depression responsive hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and its hormonal response via cortisol, is responsible for critical neurodevelopmental deficits in the offspring which is transduced due to gestational stress. But knowledge in the area of assessing the effects of maternal chronic unpredictable mild stress (CUMS) on neurogenesis and expression of some key signaling molecules in the offsprings are limited. We have used Wistar rats to induce PNS in offsprings by maternal CUMS during pregnancy. Prefrontal cortex (PFC) and hippocampus were assessed for biomarkers of oxidative stress, neurogenesis, neurodevelopmental signaling molecules and DNA damage in the male Wister offsprings. Our investigations resulted in sufficient evidences which prove how maternal psychological stress has widespread effect on the fetal outcomes via major physiological alteration in the antioxidant levels, neurogenesis, signaling molecules and DNA damage. PNS leads to the upregulation of GSK-3β which in turn inhibited mRNA and protein expressions of sonic hedgehog (SHH), β-catenin, Notch and brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). The study explored multifaceted signaling molecules especially, GSK-3β responsible for crosstalks between different neurodevelopmental molecules like SHH, Notch, BDNF and β-catenin affecting neurodevelopment of the offsprings due to PNS
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