To date, much of the work in rodents implicating vasopressin (Avp) in the regulation of social behavior has focused on its action via the Avp 1a receptor (Avpr1a). However, there is mounting evidence that the Avp 1b receptor (Avpr1b) also plays a significant role in Avp's modulation of social behavior. The Avpr1b is heavily expressed on the anterior pituitary cortiocotrophs where it acts as an important modulator of the endocrine stress response. In the brain, the Avpr1b is prominent in the CA2 region of the hippocampus, but can also be found in areas such as the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus and the olfactory bulb. Studies that have employed genetic knockouts or pharmacological manipulation of the Avpr1b point to the importance of central Avpr1b in the modulation of social behavior. However, there continues to be a knowledge gap in our understanding of where in the brain this is occurring, as well as how and if the central actions of Avp acting via the Avpr1b interact with the stress axis. In this review we focus on the genetic and pharmacological studies that have implicated the Avpr1b in the neural regulation of social behaviors, including social forms of aggressive behavior, social memory, and social motivation.
This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Oxytocin, Vasopressin, and Social Behavior.