Oxytocin (OT) and arginine vasopressin (AVP), in their capacities as neuromodulators, are believed to play an important role in mood control, including regulation of the anxiety response. In the present study, the contributions of oxytocin and vasopressin receptor modulation to anxiety-like behaviors were examined in male Sprague-Dawley rats. The behavioral effects of the OT receptor agonist, carbetocin (intracerebroventricular, intravenous and intraperitoneal routes), the AVP receptor agonist desmopressin (intravenous route), and the OT/AVP(1A) receptor antagonist atosiban (intravenous route) were evaluated in the elevated plus maze. The benzodiazepine diazepam was included as a positive control. Central but not systemic administration of carbetocin produced pronounced anxiolytic-like behavioral changes comparable to those measured following systemic diazepam treatment. The anxiolytic efficacy of carbetocin was maintained following 10 days of once-daily treatment, contrasting with the effects of diazepam which were no longer distinguishable from saline treatment. Systemic administration of desmopressin produced anxiogenic-like effects whereas systemic atosiban produced anxiolytic-like effects. Co-administration of desmopressin with atosiban resulted in saline-like behavioral responses, implicating an AVP(1A) receptor mechanism in the anxiolytic and anxiogenic effects of these neuropeptides following systemic administration. A peripherally-mediated antidiuretic effect of desmopressin on water consumption was also demonstrated. These results highlight the potential therapeutic utility of AVP(1A) receptor blockade in the modulation of anxiety-related behaviors; AVP(1A) receptor blockade appears to be a more promising pharmacological target than does OT receptor activation following systemic drug administration.
Journal of Psychopharmacology 09/2011; 26(4):532-42. DOI:10.1177/0269881111416687 · 2.81 Impact Factor