Involvement of brain serotonin 5-HT1A receptors in genetic predisposition to aggressive behavior

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Experiments were performed on Norwegian rats selected over more than 59 generations for high and low levels of high-affective defensive aggressivity and on highly aggressive (offensive) Tg8 mice with irreversible monoamine oxidase A knockout. There were significant differences in the functional state and expression of 5-HT1A receptors between highly aggressive and non-aggressive animals. Functional activity assessed in terms of hypothermia evoked by a 5-HT1A agonist was significantly greater in non-aggressive rats and mice than in aggressive animals. The high level of functional activity in non-aggressive rats coincided with a greater level of expression of 5-HT1A receptors in the midbrain. The level of 5-HT1A receptor mRNA in aggressive mice was unchanged in the midbrain and hypothalamus and was increased in the frontal cortex and amygdaloid complex. These results led to the conclusion that 5-HT1A receptors play a significant role in the mechanisms of genetic predisposition to aggressive behavior.

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