Physiology & behavior

Arginine vasopressin V1a receptor antagonist impairs maternal memory in rats.

PMID 18620713


Primiparous female rats rapidly respond to foster pups following an extended separation from pups after an initial maternal experience. This consolidation of maternal behavior has been referred to as maternal memory. The neurochemical regulation of maternal memory is not clearly understood. One neuropeptide that may mediate maternal memory is arginine vasopressin (AVP), a neuropeptide which is modulated around the time of parturition and has an established role in learning and memory processes. Thus, the present studies examine the possible involvement of AVP in the establishment of maternal memory in female rats. Pregnant rats were implanted with chronic cannulae connected to subcutaneous osmotic minipumps filled with a V1a receptor antagonist [d(CH2)5Tyr(Me)AVP, 0.1-12.5 ng/h] or saline vehicle which were chronically infused either into the lateral ventricles or bilaterally into the medial amygdala beginning on day 18 of gestation. Both the osmotic pumps and the newborn pups were removed 24 h following parturition. The effects of the V1a antagonist treatments on social recognition and maternal behavior were measured following parturition and maternal memory was assessed following a ten day separation from pups. Whereas none of the AVP treatments affected the initial establishment of maternal behavior postpartum, maternal memory was impaired in rats infused into the amygdala with the AVP antagonist (1.25 and 12.5 ng/h). Social recognition was not impaired by intracerebroventricular infusion of either the 0.1 or 1.0 ng/h dose of the V1a antagonist. The present results suggest a role for medial amygdaloid V1a receptors in the establishment of maternal memory.

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[β-Mercapto-β,β-cyclopentamethylenepropionyl1, O-me-Tyr2, Arg8]-Vasopressin, ≥97% (HPLC)