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Horm Behav. 1991 Jun;25(2):206-16.

Acute and repeated exposure to social conflict in male golden hamsters: increases in plasma POMC-peptides and cortisol and decreases in plasma testosterone.

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Department of Medical Neurosciences, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Washington, D.C. 20307-5100.


The purpose of the present study was to characterize the hormonal response of dominant and submissive male hamsters to acute and repeated exposure to social conflict. We found that submissive, but not dominant, males exhibited elevated plasma levels of adrenocorticotropin (ACTH), cortisol, and beta-endorphin (beta-EP) following one exposure to an agonistic encounter. After five exposures to a dominant opponent, submissive males showed smaller, but still significant, elevations in these plasma hormones. After nine exposures, submissive hamsters showed significant elevations only in plasma ACTH and beta-EP. Plasma testosterone was significantly suppressed in submissive males that fought nine times. We conclude that hamsters are a useful species with which to study the neuroendocrine correlates of social behavior.

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