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Aggressive behavior and stress response after oxytocin administration in male Norway rats selected for different attitudes to humans

Gulevich, Rimma, Kozhemyakina, Rimma, Shikhevich, Svetlana, Konoshenko, Maria, Herbeck, Yury
Physiology & behavior 2019 v.199 pp. 210-218
Rattus norvegicus, aggression, attitudes and opinions, corticosterone, genes, humans, hypothalamus, latent period, males, nose, oxytocin, rats, social behavior, stress response
Oxytocin (OXT) is known to influence on social behaviors, including intermale aggression and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activity. However, there are no data on the effects of oxytocin on intermale aggression and HPA axis activity in rats selected for elimination and enhancement of aggressiveness towards humans. The aim of this study is to elucidate the role of oxytocin in expression of aggressive behavior and stress response in Norway rats selected for elimination (tame) and enhancement (aggressive) of an aggressive-defensive reaction to humans. Oxytocin was administered to males via nasal applications once or for 5 days (daily). Resident-intruder test showed that in aggressive males, single oxytocin administration caused an increase in the latent period of aggressive interactions and a decrease in the percentage of direct aggression time (not including the time of lateral threat postures) as compared to the control aggressive rats administered with saline. After a 5-day oxytocin administration, aggressive animals demonstrated shorter time of aggressive interactions compared to the control rats. Resident-intruder test revealed no significant changes in behavior of tame rats after single oxytocin administration, while multiple administration caused an increase in aggressive behavior in tame rats. Oxytocin applications caused an elevation of corticosterone level after restriction in aggressive males, but did not affect expression of Crh, Crh1 and Crhr2 genes in hypothalamus in either tame or aggressive rats. The data obtained indicate significant role of oxytocinergic system in the behavior formed in the process of selection by reaction to humans.