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Trends Neurosci. 2001 Dec;24(12):713-9.

Molecular basis of aggression.

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  • 1Dept of Psychology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.


Recent pharmacological and genetic studies have dramatically expanded the list of neurotransmitters, hormones, cytokines, enzymes, growth factors, and signaling molecules that influence aggression. In spite of this expansion, serotonin (5-HT) remains the primary molecular determinant of inter-male aggression, whereas other molecules appear to act indirectly through 5-HT signaling. We review evidence of interactions among these molecules and aggressive behavior. Slight modulations in 5-HT levels, turnover, and metabolism, or in receptor subtype activation, density, and binding affinity affect aggression. Activation of specific 5-HT receptors evokes distinct, but highly interacting, second messenger systems and multiple effectors. Understanding the interactions between 5-HT receptor subtypes should lead to novel insights into the molecular mechanisms of aggression.

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