Oxytocin reversed MK-801-induced social interaction and aggression deficits in zebrafish

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Abstract

Changes in social behavior occur in several neuropsychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and autism. The interaction between individuals is an essential aspect and an adaptive response of several species, among them the zebrafish. Oxytocin is a neuroendocrine hormone associated with social behavior. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of MK-801, a non-competitive antagonist of glutamate NMDA receptors, on social interaction and aggression in zebrafish. We also examined the modulation of those effects by oxytocin, the oxytocin receptor agonist carbetocin and the oxytocin receptor antagonist L-368,899. Our results showed that MK-801 induced a decrease in the time spent in the segment closest to the conspecific school and in the time spent in the segment nearest to the mirror image, suggesting an effect on social behavior. The treatment with oxytocin after the exposure to MK-801 was able to reestablish the time spent in the segment closest to the conspecific school, as well as the time spent in the segment nearest to the mirror image. In addition, in support of the role of the oxytocin pathway in modulating those responses, we showed that the oxytocin receptor agonist carbetocin reestablished the social and aggressive behavioral deficits induced by MK-801. However, the oxytocin receptor antagonist L-368,899 was not able to reverse the behavioral changes induced by MK-801. This study supports the critical role for NMDA receptors and the oxytocinergic system in the regulation of social behavior and aggression which may be relevant for the mechanisms associated to autism and schizophrenia.

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