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Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2017 May;79:20-30. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2017.01.036. Epub 2017 Feb 2.

Pup exposure facilitates retrieving behavior via the oxytocin neural system in female mice.

Author information

1
Companion Animal Research, School of Veterinary Medicine, Azabu University, Sagamihara 252-5201, Japan.
2
Department of Anatomy, Toho University School of Medicine, Tokyo, 143-8540 Japan.
3
Mouse Genomics Resource Laboratory, National Institute of Genetics (NIG), Mishima, Japan; Department of Genetics, SOKENDAI, Mishima, Japan.
4
Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Graduate School of Agricultural Science, Tohoku University, Sendai, 981-8555, Japan.
5
Companion Animal Research, School of Veterinary Medicine, Azabu University, Sagamihara 252-5201, Japan. Electronic address: kikusui@azabu-u.ac.jp.

Abstract

Parental behavior in mammals is innate, but it is also facilitated by social experience, specifically social interactions between the parent and infant. Social interactions with infants also induce the alloparental behavior of virgin animals. Oxytocin (OT) plays an important role in mediating alloparental behavior. Although parental behavior is modulated by the medial preoptic area (MPOA) and adjacent regions, it is unclear how OT acts in these regions as a control mechanism of alloparental behavior promoted by adult-pup interaction. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of OT for facilitating effects of adult-pup interactions on alloparental behavior via neural activity of preoptic area (POA), including MPOA and adjacent area. For this purpose, we conducted behavioral tests and examined the neural activity of the OT system in POA. Virgin female mice that were repeatedly exposed to pups showed shorter retrieving latencies and higher number of c-Fos expressing neurons in POA, particular in lateral preoptic area (LPO) compared to control animals that were exposed to pups only one time. In addition, repeated pup exposure increased the proportion of OT neurons and OTR neurons expressing c-Fos in POA. The concentration of OT also significantly increased in the POA. Finally, infusion of an OT antagonist into the POA area blocked the facilitating effects of repeated pup exposure on retrieving behavior. These results demonstrated that the facilitating effects of repeated pup exposure on alloparental behavior occurred via an organizational role of the OT system.

KEYWORDS:

Alloparental behavior; Medial preoptic area; Mice; Oxytocin; Pup sensitization; Retrieving behavior

PMID:
28246032
DOI:
10.1016/j.psyneuen.2017.01.036
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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