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Neurosci Lett. 2015 Jan 1;584:308-13. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2014.10.051. Epub 2014 Nov 1.

High aggression in rats is associated with elevated stress, anxiety-like behavior, and altered catecholamine content in the brain.

Author information

1
Department of Pharmacological and Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy, University of Houston, TX 77204, USA.
2
Department of Pharmacological and Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy, University of Houston, TX 77204, USA. Electronic address: ssalim@uh.edu.

Abstract

The social defeat paradigm involves aggressive encounters between Long-Evans (L-E) (resident) and Sprague-Dawley (S-D) (intruder) rats. Successful application of chronic social defeat stress in S-D rats is dependent upon selection of highly aggressive L-E rats. Half of the L-E rats screened for aggression did not meet the criterion for aggression (L-E rats performing a defeat, characterized by the intruder surrendering or acquiring a supine position for at least 3s). The observation of the differences in the level of aggression between age and weight matched L-E rats was quite compelling which led us to the present study. Herein, we measured behavioral differences between aggressor and non-aggressor L-E rats. We analyzed their anxiety-like behavior using open-field and elevated plus maze tests. We also measured aggression/violence-like behavior using two tests. In one, time taken to defeat the intruder S-D rat was recorded. In the second test, time taken to attack a novel object was compared between the two groups. We observed a significant increase in anxiety-like behavior in aggressor rats when compared to the non-aggressive group. Furthermore, time taken to defeat the intruder rat and to attack a novel object was significantly lower in aggressive L-E rats. Biochemical data suggests that heightened anxiety-like behavior and aggression is associated with increased plasma levels of corticosterones and elevated oxidative stress. Significant alterations in dopamine (DA), norepinephrine (NE) and epinephrine (EPI) were observed within the hippocampus, amygdala, and the prefrontal cortex, suggesting potential involvement of dopaminergic and noradrenergic systems in regulation of aggressive behaviors.

KEYWORDS:

Aggression; Dopamine; Norepinephrine; Stress and anxiety

PMID:
25450144
PMCID:
PMC4322760
DOI:
10.1016/j.neulet.2014.10.051
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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