Activation of kappa opioid receptors in the dorsal raphe have sex dependent effects on social behavior in California mice

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Kappa opioid receptor activation has been linked to stress and anxiety behavior, thus leading to kappa antagonists being popularized in research as potential anxiolytics. However, while these findings may hold true in standard models, the neuromodulatory effects of social defeat may change the behavioral outcome of kappa opioid receptor activation. Previous research has shown that social defeat can lead to hyperactivity of serotonergic neurons in the dorsal raphe nucleus, and that inhibition of this increase blocks the social deficits caused by defeat. Kappa opioid receptor activation in the dorsal raphe nucleus works to decrease serotonergic activity. We injected the kappa opioid receptor U50,488 directly into the dorsal raphe nucleus of male and female, defeat and control adult California mice. Here we show evidence that U50,488 induces anxiety behavior in control male California mice, but helps relieve it in defeated males. Consistent with previous literature, we find little effect in females adding evidence that there are marked and important sex differences in the kappa opioid system.

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