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Author Notes:

Correspondence: Dr CE Barrett, 954 Gatewood Road, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, 30329, USA. E-mail: cbarrett27@gmail.com

We thank Pravina Fernandez, Allen Quetant, Rodrigo Triana del Rio and Lorra Matthews for laboratory and animal care assistance, and Jamie LaPrairie for comments on the manuscript.

LJY has applied for a patent (US20120108510—Methods of improving behavioral therapies) for combining MCR agonists with behavioral therapies to enhance social cognition in psychiatric disorders.

The remaining authors declare no conflict of interest.

Subjects:

Research Funding:

This work was support by NIH grants R01MH096983 and 1P50MH100023 and an Autism Speaks grant #7745 to LJY. CEB was supported by an NSF graduate research fellowship.

SEA was supported by funding from the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience (NIH/NIGMS grant #R01-GM085391 to Dr KJ Frantz).

Additional funding was provided by Office of Research Infrastructure Programs/OD P51OD11132 to YNPRC.

Keywords:

  • Science & Technology
  • Life Sciences & Biomedicine
  • Psychiatry
  • RECEPTOR GENE OXTR
  • PARTNER-PREFERENCE FORMATION
  • NUCLEUS-ACCUMBENS DOPAMINE
  • MATERNALLY-ASSOCIATED ODOR
  • MESSENGER-RNA EXPRESSION
  • EARLY-LIFE STRESS
  • MICROTUS-OCHROGASTER
  • MANDARIN VOLES
  • DEVELOPMENTAL EXPOSURE
  • INDIVIDUAL-DIFFERENCES

The oxytocin system promotes resilience to the effects of neonatal isolation on adult social attachment in female prairie voles

Tools:

Journal Title:

Translational Psychiatry

Volume:

Volume 5, Number 7

Publisher:

, Pages e606-e606

Type of Work:

Article | Final Publisher PDF

Abstract:

Genes and social experiences interact to create variation in social behavior and vulnerability to develop disorders of the social domain. Socially monogamous prairie voles display remarkable diversity in neuropeptide receptor systems and social behavior. Here, we examine the interaction of early-life adversity and brain oxytocin receptor (OTR) density on adult social attachment in female prairie voles. First, pups were isolated for 3 h per day, or unmanipulated, from postnatal day 1-14. Adult subjects were tested on the partner preference (PP) test to assess social attachment and OTR density in the brain was quantified. Neonatal social isolation impaired female PP formation, without affecting OTR density. Accumbal OTR density was, however, positively correlated with the percent of time spent huddling with the partner in neonatally isolated females. Females with high accumbal OTR binding were resilient to neonatal isolation. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that parental nurturing shapes neural systems underlying social relationships by enhancing striatal OTR signaling. Thus, we next determined whether early touch, mimicking parental licking and grooming, stimulates hypothalamic OT neuron activity. Tactile stimulation induced immediate-early gene activity in OT neurons in neonates. Finally, we investigated whether pharmacologically potentiating OT release using a melanocortin 3/4 agonist, melanotan-II (10 mg kg - 1 subcutaneously), would mitigate the social isolation-induced impairments in attachment behavior. Neonatal melanotan-II administration buffered against the effects of early isolation on partner preference formation. Thus, variation in accumbal OTR density and early OT release induced by parental nurturing may moderate susceptibility to early adverse experiences, including neglect.

Copyright information:

© 2015 Macmillan Publishers Limited

This is an Open Access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
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