Consequences of early experiences and exposure to oxytocin and vasopressin are sexually dimorphic.

Department of Psychiatry, Brain Body Center, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Ill. 60612, USA.
Developmental Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 3.41). 02/2009; 31(4):332-41. DOI: 10.1159/000216544
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT In the socially monogamous prairie vole, we have observed that small changes in early handling, as well as early hormonal manipulations can have long-lasting and sexually dimorphic effects on behavior. These changes may be mediated in part by changes in parental interactions with their young, acting on systems that rely on oxytocin (OT) and arginine vasopressin (AVP). Knowledge of both endogenous and exogenous influences on systems that rely on OT and AVP may be helpful in understanding sexually dimorphic developmental disorders, such as autism, that are characterized by increased anxiety and deficits in social behavior.

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    ABSTRACT: Appropriate parental care by fathers can greatly facilitate healthy human family life. However, much less is known about paternal behavior in animals compared to those regarding maternal behavior. Previously, we reported that male ICR strain laboratory mice, although not spontaneously parental, can be induced to display maternal-like parental care (pup retrieval) when separated from their pups by signals from the pairmate dam (Liu et al., 2013). This parental behavior by the ICR sires, which are not genetically biparental, is novel and has been designated as pairmate-dependent paternal behavior. However, the factors critical for this paternal behavior are unclear. Here, we report that the pairmate-dependent paternal retrieval behavior is observed especially in the ICR strain and not in C57BL/6 or BALB/c mice. An ICR sire displays retrieval behavior only toward his biological pups. A sire co-housed with an unrelated non-pairing dam in a new environment, under which 38-kHz ultrasonic vocalizations are not detected, does not show parenting behavior. It is important for sires to establish their own home territory (cage) by continuous housing and testing to display retrieval behavior. These results indicated that the ICR sires display distinct paternity, including father-child social interaction, and shed light on parental behavior, although further analyses of paternal care at the neuroendocrinological and neurocircuitry levels are required.
    Frontiers in Neuroscience 07/2014; 8:186. DOI:10.3389/fnins.2014.00186

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