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Behav Neurosci. 2009 Jun;123(3):589-98. doi: 10.1037/a0015333.

Serotonin 5-HT1A and 5-HT3 receptors in an impulsive-aggressive phenotype.

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Department of Psychology, Institute for Neuroscience, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, USA.


In adult male hamsters, individual differences in offensive aggression are correlated with differences in impulsive choice and decreased serotonin (5-HT) innervation. As serotonin 1A (5-HT1A) receptors participate in the inhibition of aggression, whereas 5-HT3 receptor activation facilitates aggression, the authors hypothesized that differences in their expression are associated with differences in behavior. The authors confirmed previous behavioral associations, using a delay-discounting paradigm with various delays, as high-aggression (H-Agg) hamsters preferred the immediate-reward lever over the delayed-reward lever under most delays, compared with low-aggression (L-Agg) hamsters. Although the authors observed a greater density of 5-HT1A receptor immunoreactivity in H-Agg hamsters within several areas, it appears to be related to a lack of serotonin release, as supported by further observations of decreased immunoreactive perikarya and 5-HT1A receptors in fluoxetine-treated hamsters. Also, 5-HT3 receptor density was greater in H-Agg hamsters within select areas. The data indicate a convergence of impulsive and aggressive characteristics to one phenotype that is associated with various aspects of serotonin function, such as serotonin release and differential expression of 5-HT1A and 5-HT3 receptors.

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