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Author Notes:

Correspondence should be addressed to: Oliver Bosch, Department of Behavioural and Molecular Neurobiology, Institute of Zoology, University of Regensburg, Universitaetsstr. 31, 93053 Regensburg, Germany, tel +49 (0)941 943-3076, fax +49 (0)941 943-3052, oliver.bosch@ur.de. Larry Young, Department of Psychiatry, Center for Translational Social Neuroscience, 954 Gatewood Rd., Yerkes National Primate Center, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA, tel +1 404 727-8272, fax +1 404 727-8070, lyoun03@emory.edu.

The authors would like to thank Lorra Mathews, Pravina Fernandez, Desirée De Leon, as well as Kathrin Bohrer, Martina Fuchs and Gabriele Schindler for their excellent technical support.

Furthermore, we thank Stefanie Klampfl for expert statistical support and Steve Ryan for help with electrophysiology data analysis.

The authors declare no competing financial interests.


Research Funding:

This research was supported by NIH Grants R01MH-077776, R01MH096983, and 1P50MH100023 to LJY, R00MH-096746 and start-up funds of the Chicago Medical School, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science to JD

CEB was supported by a US NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.

Additional funding was provided by the NIH Office of Research Infrastructure Programs/OD P51OD11132 to YNPRC and NINDS P30NS055077 to the Emory Neuroscience Viral Vector Core Facility.

VG was supported by the German Research Foundation grants GR 3619/2-1, GR 3619/3-1, GR 3619/4-1 and by the Chica & Heinz Schaller Research Foundation


  • Science & Technology
  • Life Sciences & Biomedicine
  • Endocrinology & Metabolism
  • Neurosciences
  • Psychiatry
  • Neurosciences & Neurology
  • Corticotropin-releasing factor
  • Grieving
  • Partner separation
  • Passive stress-coping
  • Social loss
  • Stresscopin

Oxytocin in the nucleus accumbens shell reverses CRFR2-evoked passive stress-coping after partner loss in monogamous male prairie voles

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Journal Title:



Volume 64


, Pages 66-78

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


Loss of a partner can have severe effects on mental health. Here we explore the neural mechanisms underlying increased passive stress-coping, indicative of depressive-like behavior, following the loss of the female partner in the monogamous male prairie vole. We demonstrate that corticotropin-releasing factor receptor 2 (CRFR2) in the nucleus accumbens shell mediates social loss-induced passive coping. Further, we show that partner loss compromises the oxytocin system through multiple mechanisms. Finally, we provide evidence for an interaction of the CRFR2 and oxytocin systems in mediating the emotional consequences of partner loss. Our results suggest that chronic activation of CRFR2 and suppression of striatal oxytocin signaling following partner loss result in an aversive emotional state that may share underlying mechanisms with bereavement. We propose that the suppression of oxytocin signaling is likely adaptive during short separations to encourage reunion with the partner and may have evolved to maintain long-term partnerships. Additionally, therapeutic strategies targeting these systems should be considered for treatment of social loss-mediated depression.

Copyright information:

© 2015 Elsevier Ltd.

This is an Open Access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

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