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Horm Behav. 2012 Mar;61(3):293-303. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2011.11.002. Epub 2011 Nov 9.

Both oxytocin and vasopressin are mediators of maternal care and aggression in rodents: from central release to sites of action.

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  • 1Department of Behavioural and Molecular Neurobiology, University of Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany. oliver.bosch@ur.de

Abstract

In the mammalian peripartum period, the activity of both the brain oxytocin and vasopressin system is elevated as part of the physiological adaptations occurring in the mother. This is reflected by increased expression and intracerebral release of oxytocin and vasopressin, as well as increased neuropeptide receptor expression and binding. In this review we discuss the functional role of the brain oxytocin and vasopressin system in the context of maternal behavior, specifically maternal care and maternal aggression in rodents. In order to enable the identification of significant and peptide-specific contributions to the display of maternal behavior, various complementary animal models of maternal care and/or maternal aggression were studied, including rats selectively bred for differences in anxiety-related behavior (HAB and LAB dams), monitoring of local neuropeptide release during ongoing maternal behavior, and local pharmacological or genetic manipulations of the neuropeptide systems. The medial preoptic area was identified as a major site for oxytocin- and vasopressin-mediated maternal care. Furthermore, both oxytocin and vasopressin release and receptor activation in the central amygdala and the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis play an important role for maternal aggression. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Oxytocin, Vasopressin, and Social Behavior.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

PMID:
22100184
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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