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Effects of AMPA receptor antagonist, NBQX, and extrasynaptic GABAA agonist, THIP, on social behavior of adolescent and adult rats

Dannenhoffer, Carol A., Varlinskaya, Elena I., Spear, Linda Patia
Physiology & behavior 2018 v.194 pp. 212-217
adolescence, adolescents, adulthood, adults, agonists, antagonists, drugs, ethanol, females, gamma-aminobutyric acid, males, play activities, rats, receptors, social facilitation
Adolescence is characterized by high significance of social interactions, along with a propensity to exhibit social facilitating effects of ethanol while being less sensitive than adults to the inhibition of social behavior that emerges at higher doses of ethanol. Among the neural characteristics of adolescence are generally enhanced levels of glutamatergic (especially NMDA receptor) activity relative to adults, whereas the GABA system is still developmentally immature. Activation of NMDA receptors likely plays a role in modulation of social behavior in adolescent animals as well as in socially facilitating and suppressing effects of ethanol. For instance, adolescent and adult rats differ in their sensitivities to the effects of NMDA antagonists and ethanol on social behavior, with adolescents but not adults demonstrating social facilitation at lower doses of both drugs and adults being more sensitive to the socially suppressing effects evident at higher doses of each. The roles of AMPA and extrasynaptic GABAA receptors in modulation of social behavior during adolescence and in adulthood are still unknown. The present study was designed to assess whether pharmacological blockade of AMPA receptors and/or activation of extrasynaptic GABAA receptors results in age-dependent alterations of social behavior. Adolescent and adult male and female Sprague-Dawley rats were injected with an assigned dose of either a selective AMPA antagonist, NBQX (Experiment 1) or extrasynaptic GABAA agonist, THIP (Experiment 2) and placed into a modified social interaction chamber for a 30-min habituation period prior to a 10-min social interaction test with a novel age- and sex-matched partner. Behaviors such as social investigation, contact behavior and play behavior were scored from video recordings of the interaction tests. In Experiment 1, NBQX produced similar social inhibition at higher doses in both age groups. In Experiment 2, THIP induced inhibition in adolescents, but not adults. No social facilitation was evident following low doses of either drug. Therefore, AMPA and extrasynaptic GABAA receptors appear to play little role if any in modulation of peer-directed social behavior in adolescence and adulthood and not likely to contribute to previously observed age differences in the social effects of acute ethanol.