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Behavioral neuroscience

A double dissociation in the effects of 5-HT2A and 5-HT2C receptors on the acquisition and expression of conditioned defeat in Syrian hamsters.


PMID 22708954

Abstract

Previous research indicates that serotonin enhances the development of stress-induced changes in behavior, although it is unclear which serotonin receptors mediate this effect. 5-HT2 receptors are potential candidates because activation at these receptors is associated with increased fear and anxiety. In this study, we investigated whether pharmacological treatments targeting 5-HT2 receptors would alter the acquisition and expression of conditioned defeat. Conditioned defeat is a social defeat model in Syrian hamsters in which individuals display increased submissive and defensive behavior and a loss of territorial aggression when tested with a novel intruder 24 hours after an acute social defeat. The nonselective 5-HT2 receptor agonist mCPP (0.0, 0.3, 1.0, or 3.0 mg/kg) was injected either prior to social defeat training or prior to conditioned defeat testing. Also, the 5-HT2A receptor antagonist MDL 11,939 (0.0, 0.5, or 2.0 mg/kg) was injected either prior to social defeat training or prior to conditioned defeat testing. Injection of mCPP prior to testing increased the expression of conditioned defeat, but injection of mCPP prior to training did not alter the acquisition of conditioned defeat. Conversely, injection of MDL 11,939 prior to training reduced the acquisition of conditioned defeat, but injection of MDL 11,939 prior to testing did not alter the expression of conditioned defeat. Our data suggest that mCPP activates 5-HT2C receptors during testing to enhance the display of submissive and defensive behavior, whereas MDL 11,939 blocks 5-HT2A receptors during social defeat to disrupt the development of the conditioned defeat response. In sum, these results suggest that serotonin acts at separate 5-HT2 receptors to facilitate the acquisition and expression of defeat-induced changes in social behavior.

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