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Eur J Pharmacol. 2005 Dec 5;526(1-3):207-17. Epub 2005 Nov 28.

5-HT1B receptors and aggression: a review.

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Department of Psychopharmacology, Utrecht Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences, Utrecht University, Sorbonnelaan 16, The Netherlands.


The serotonergic (5-HT) system in the brain is involved in the modulation of offensive aggressive behavior. The dogma that activity of the 5-HT system is inversely related to aggression is obsolete now. Research on the status of the 5-HT system before, during and after the execution of aggression is ongoing but has not yet led to a clear picture about the actual functional role of the 5-HT system, the more because state versus trait aggression seems to play a pivotal role in the outcome. Pharmacological challenges pinpoint 5-HT(1A) and 5-HT(1B) receptors as key players in the modulation of offensive aggression. This review emphasizes in particular the role of postsynaptic 5-HT(1B) (hetero) receptors as a premier site to modulate offensive aggression. Modulation of the firing and 5-HT release of the serotonergic neuron, via presynaptic 5-HT(1A) (auto) receptors, presynaptic 5-HT(1B) (auto) receptors and serotonergic transporters, may also have striking influences on aggression under certain conditions. Therefore, it is hypothesized that postsynaptic 5-HT(1B) (hetero) receptors directly influence the executive, consummatory phases of agonistic behavior, whereas presynaptic serotonergic feedback systems are particularly useful in the introductory (appetitive) phases of the agonistic behavioral complex.

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