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Life Sci. 2008 Apr 23;82(17-18):909-14. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2008.02.005. Epub 2008 Feb 23.

Enhancement of social isolation-induced aggressive behavior of young mice by zinc deficiency.

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Department of Medical Biochemistry, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Shizuoka, 52-1 Yada, Shizuoka 422-8526, Japan.


Neuropsychological behavior via activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis was analyzed using young mice fed a zinc-deficient diet for 2 weeks. Serum corticosterone concentration was significantly increased after 2-week zinc deprivation, whereas zinc concentration in the brain was not decreased. In the resident-intruder test, the rate of mice that exhibited aggressive behavior to the total mice was significantly higher in isolated zinc-deficient mice than in isolated control mice. The duration of aggressive behavior was more in isolated zinc-deficient mice. These results indicate that aggressive behavior of young mice elicited by social isolation is enhanced by zinc deficiency. On the other hand, social isolation-induced aggressive behavior was enhanced in isolated pair-fed mice with food restriction that can activate the HPA axis. Serum corticosterone concentration was also significantly higher in isolated zinc-deficient mice. To see the effect of the increased serum corticosterone on behavioral abnormality, neurotransmitter concentrations in brain tissue were checked. The concentrations of glutamate and GABA in brain tissue were significantly higher in both grouped and isolated zinc-deficient mice. Furthermore, the concentration of extracellular glutamate in the amygdala before the resident-intruder test was significantly higher in isolated zinc-deficient (aggressive) mice and the higher concentration was maintained during the test. The changes in neurotransmitter homeostasis, probably via the increase in serum corticosterone, seem to be linked to aggressive behavior elicited by social isolation in zinc deficiency.

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