Antagonism of V1b receptors promotes maternal motivation to retrieve pups in the MPOA and impairs pup-directed behavior during maternal defense in the mpBNST of lactating rats

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Doris S. Bayerl, Veronika Kaczmarek, Benjamin Jurek, Erwin H. van den Burg, Inga D. Neumann, Barbara M. Gaßner, Stefanie M. Klampfl, Oliver J. Bosch
Hormones and Behavior
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Recent studies using V1b receptor (V1bR) knockout mice or central pharmacological manipulations in lactating rats highlighted the influence of this receptor for maternal behavior. However, its role in specific brain sites known to be important for maternal behavior has not been investigated to date. In the present study, we reveal that V1bR mRNA (qPCR) and protein levels (Western blot) within either the medial preoptic area (MPOA) or the medial-posterior part of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (mpBNST) did not differ between virgin and lactating rats. Furthermore, we characterized the effects of V1bR blockade via bilateral injections of the receptor subtype-specific antagonist SSR149415 within the MPOA or the mpBNST on maternal behavior (maternal care under non-stress and stress conditions, maternal motivation to retrieve pups in a novel environment, maternal aggression) and anxiety-related behavior in lactating rats. Blocking V1bR within the MPOA increased pup retrieval, whereas within the mpBNST it decreased pup-directed behavior, specifically licking/grooming the pups, during the maternal defense test. In addition, immediately after termination of the maternal defense test, V1bR antagonism in both brain regions reduced nursing, particularly arched back nursing. Anxiety-related behavior was not affected by V1bR antagonism in either brain region. In conclusion our data indicate that V1bR antagonism significantly modulates different aspects of maternal behavior in a brain region-dependent manner.


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