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Dev Psychobiol. 2014 Sep;56(6):1431-7. doi: 10.1002/dev.21224. Epub 2014 May 29.

The effects of bromocriptine treatment during early pregnancy on postpartum maternal behaviors in rats.

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Department of Biomedical Sciences, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, 200 Westboro Road, North Grafton, MA, 01536.


Prolactin, a hormone of the anterior pituitary, is involved in initiating maternal behavior, alleviating postpartum anxiety, and stimulating lactogenesis. Bromocriptine, a dopamine D2 receptor agonist, inhibits prolactin secretion. Bromocriptine administration represses postpartum maternal behaviors (pup retrieval) in mice, and causes elevated anxiety in the elevated plus maze [Larsen & Grattan (2010). Endocrinology 151(8): 3805-3814]. Whether similar effects exist in other species is unknown. The present study examined the possible involvement of prolactin during early gestation on maternal behavior and anxiety in rats. Bromocriptine given on days 2-4 of pregnancy resulted in impaired postpartum maternal behaviors in a novel environment during early lactation. However, compared to controls, bromocriptine-treated subjects did not exhibit increased postpartum anxiety in the elevated plus maze. These findings support work in mice that bromocriptine treatment during early gestation impedes postpartum maternal care, and indicate that early gestational hormonal status affects postpartum behavior more broadly in other mammals.


anxiety; dopamine agonist; postpartum maternal behavior; rats

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