Social dominance in male vasopressin 1b receptor knockout mice

Department of Biological Sciences and the School of Biomedical Sciences, Kent State University, Kent, OH 44242, USA.
Hormones and Behavior (Impact Factor: 4.63). 03/2010; 58(2):257-63. DOI: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2010.03.008
Source: PubMed


We have previously reported that mice with a targeted disruption of their vasopressin 1b receptor gene, Avpr1b, have mild impairments in social recognition and reduced aggression. The reductions in aggression are limited to social forms of aggression, i.e., maternal and inter-male aggression, while predatory aggression remains unaffected. To further clarify the role of the Avpr1b in the regulation of social behavior we first examined anxiety-like and depression-like behaviors in Avpr1b knockout (Avpr1b -/-) mice. We then went on to test the ability of Avpr1b -/- mice to form dominance hierarchies. No major differences were found between Avpr1b -/- and wildtype mice in anxiety-like behaviors, as measured using an elevated plus maze and an open field test, or depression-like behaviors, as measured using a forced swim test. In the social dominance study we found that Avpr1b -/- mice are able to form dominance hierarchies, though in early hierarchy formation dominant Avpr1b -/- mice display significantly more mounting behavior on Day 1 of testing compared to wildtype controls. Further, non-socially dominant Avpr1b -/- mice spend less time engaged in attack behavior than wildtype controls. These findings suggest that while Avpr1b -/- mice may be able to form dominance hierarchies they appear to employ alternate strategies.

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Available from: Heather K Caldwell, Jan 07, 2015
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    • "Following testing, dams were returned to a clean cage with their wet nurse and pups. Forced swim was later scored using the Noldus Observer 9.0 (Leesburg, VA) as previously described [57], [58]. Briefly, swimming or floating was scored for 4 total minutes, with the scoring beginning at minute 2, to allow for the mouse to acclimate. "
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    • "In tests of social dominance, male Avpr1b −/− mice are able to form dominance hierarchies, but they do so by employing alternative strategies and fewer displays of aggressive behaviors. Specifically, in early hierarchy formation, socially dominant Avpr1b −/− mice display more mounting behavior than Avpr1b +/+ mice, and non-socially dominant Avpr1b −/− mice engage in fewer attacks and have shorter attack durations compared to controls (Caldwell et al., 2010). The reduced aggression phenotype observed in Avpr1b −/− mice does not appear to be strain specific, as Avpr1b −/− mice crossed with the more " wild " outbred strain, Mus musculus castaneus, have reduced aggressive behaviors relative to controls (Caldwell and Young, 2009). "
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