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: 2.7). 02/2009; 31(4):332-41. DOI: 10.1159/000216544
Source: PubMed


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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Available from: Carol Sue Carter, Jul 07, 2014
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    • "In rodents, following a Morris water maze test for three days, release of AVP significantly increases in the PVN after each test session [64]. Similarly, forced swimming can induce a significant increase in AVP release in both the SON and PVN that increases further in the PVN with repeated swimming [65] [62]. These studies are in agreement with our behavioral data that LPS fathers displayed higher levels of depression and anxiety-like behaviors in the forced swimming test and the social interaction test respectively, and BPS fathers showed high levels of anxiety-like behavior in the open field test. "
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    ABSTRACT: Repeated separation from pups results in anxiety and depression-like behaviors in mothers. This level of attachment has also been established between fathers and pups in monogamous rodents. We hypothesized that brief and lengthy separation from their pups would affect emotion, social behavior and neuroendocrine parameters in socially monogamous male mandarin voles (Microtus mandarinus). The results indicate that brief pup separation (BPS) of 15min/day significantly reduced the percentage of time spent in the central area, total distance and total transition in open field tests. BPS resulted in increased sniffing and self-grooming in fathers, but reduced attacking and climbing. Long pup separation (LPS) of 3h/day suppressed attacking, sniffing, no-social investigating and digging in fathers, but increased time in immobile in social interaction and forced swimming tests. LPS upregulated levels of central oxytocin (OT) and vasopressin (AVP), serum corticosterone (CORT); BPS increased central OT and serum corticosterone only. These findings show that BPS and LPS are critical stressors for fathers and alter anxiety and depression-like and social behaviors in monogamous mandarin voles. These changes in behaviors may be associated with alteration in OT, AVP and CORT. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2014 · Physiology & Behavior
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    • "OT has critical implications for ASD2345272830, attenuates stress from negative stimuli674647, and is associated with modulation of the brain response in the amygdala910111218. Thus, we examined whether, even in healthy individuals, higher SQ or AQ scores and/or lower EQ scores (i.e., personality traits often found in ASD) would be significant predictors of an OT-induced reduction in the hostility detection ratio (i.e., the percentage of hostile responses among all responses) during the perception of others' angry and/or ambiguous facial expressions and in the OT-induced attenuation of gamma ERS in the amygdala. "
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    ABSTRACT: In humans, oxytocin (OT) enhances prosocial behaviour. However, it is still unclear how the prosocial effects of OT are modulated by emotional features and/or individuals' characteristics. In a placebo-controlled design, we tested 20 healthy male volunteers to investigate these behavioural and neurophysiological modulations using magnetoencephalography. As an index of the individuals' characteristics, we used the empathy quotient (EQ), the autism spectrum quotient (AQ), and the systemising quotient (SQ). Only during the perception of another person's angry face was a higher SQ a significant predictor of OT-induced prosocial change, both in the behavioural and neurophysiological indicators. In addition, a lower EQ was only a significant predictor of OT-induced prosocial changes in the neurophysiological indicators during the perception of angry faces. Both on the behavioural and the neurophysiological level, the effects of OT were specific for anger and correlated with a higher SQ.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2012 · Scientific Reports
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    • "In women, AVP increased the perception of friendliness in the faces of unfamiliar women and stimulated affiliative facial motor patterns. There may also be significant effects of AVP given during the early postnatal period on aggression (Carter et al., 2009). Males but not female prairie voles display significantly higher levels of aggression as adults when given peripheral injections of AVP during the early postnatal period. "
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    ABSTRACT: Neuropeptides in the arginine vasotocin/arginine vasopressin (AVT/AVP) family play a major role in the regulation of social behavior by their actions in the brain. In mammals, AVP is found within a circuit of recriprocally connected limbic structures that form the social behavior neural network. This review examines the role played by AVP within this network in controlling social processes that are critical for the formation and maintenance of social relationships: social recognition, social communication and aggression. Studies in a number of mammalian species indicate that AVP and AVP V1a receptors are ideally suited to regulate the expression of social processes because of their plasticity in response to factors that influence social behavior. The pattern of AVP innervation and V1a receptors across the social behavior neural network may determine the potential range and intensity of social responses that individuals display in different social situations. Although fundamental information on how social behavior is wired in the brain is still lacking, it is clear that different social behaviors can be influenced by the actions of AVP in the same region of the network and that AVP can act within multiple regions of this network to regulate the expression of individual social behaviors. The existing data suggest that AVP can influence social behavior by modulating the interpretation of sensory information, by influencing decision making and by triggering complex motor outputs. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Oxytocin, Vasopressin, and Social Behavior.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2011 · Hormones and Behavior
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