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Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2005 Aug;81(4):769-85.

The effects of dopaminergic/serotonergic reuptake inhibition on maternal behavior, maternal aggression, and oxytocin in the rat.

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Department of Psychiatry, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599, USA.


Studies using dopaminergic and serotonergic agonists or antagonists implicate involvement of these systems in various aspects of early maternal behavior and postpartum aggression towards an intruder in rats, both of which are associated with the presence of oxytocin in specific brain regions. It is unclear however, if or how long-term uptake inhibition of either neurotransmitter system alone or in combination, affects oxytocin system dynamics or maternal behavior/aggression. Pregnant women frequently take drugs (antidepressants, cocaine) that induce long-term reuptake inhibition of dopamine and/or serotonin, thus it is important to understand these effects on behavior and biochemistry. Rat dams were treated throughout gestation with amfonelic acid, fluoxetine, or a combination of both, to investigate effects of reuptake inhibition of dopamine and serotonin systems respectively, on maternal behavior, aggression and oxytocin. The more appetitive aspects of maternal behavior (nesting, licking, touching) and activity were increased by the low dose of amfonelic acid, high dose of fluoxetine, or the high dose combination more than other treatments. Aggression was decreased by amfonelic acid and somewhat increased by fluoxetine. Dopamine uptake inhibition appears to have a strong effect on hippocampal oxytocin levels, while receptor dynamics may be more strongly affected by serotonin uptake inhibition.

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