Behavioural pharmacology

Anterior hypothalamic dopamine D2 receptors modulate adolescent anabolic/androgenic steroid-induced offensive aggression in the Syrian hamster.

PMID 20555255


In the Syrian hamster, treatment with anabolic/androgenic steroids (AAS) throughout adolescence increases dopamine and D2 receptor expression in the anterior hypothalamus (AH), a brain region implicated in the control of aggression. D2 receptor antagonists have reduced aggression in various species and animal models. However, these studies used systemic administration of drugs and reported concomitant changes in mobility. These data complicate the question of whether pharmacology targeting D2 receptors is specific to aggression or whether these drugs exert their antiaggressive effects through nonspecific mechanisms. To resolve this discrepancy, the current studies investigate whether administration of the D2 receptor antagonist eticlopride (0.01-10.0 microg in a final volume of 0.5 microl) into the AH modulates AAS-induced aggression. Antagonism of AH D2 receptors effectively suppressed AAS-induced aggression beginning at the 0.1 microg dose, with higher doses producing a floor effect, when compared with AAS-treated animals injected with saline into the AH. Importantly, these reductions in aggressive responding occurred in the absence of changes in locomotor behavior. Our findings identify a neuroanatomical locus where D2 receptor antagonism suppresses adolescent AAS-induced aggression in the absence of alterations to general mobility.