Escalated or abnormal aggression induced by early adverse experiences is a growing issue of social concern and urges the development of effective treatment strategies. Here we report that synergistic interactions between psychosocial and biological factors specifically ameliorate escalated aggression induced by early adverse experiences. Rats reared in isolation from weaning until early adulthood showed abnormal forms of aggression and social deficits that were temporarily ameliorated by re-socialization, but aggression again escalated in a novel environment. We demonstrate that when re-socialization was combined with the antidepressant fluoxetine, which has been shown to reactivate juvenile-like state of plasticity, escalated aggression was greatly attenuated, while neither treatment alone was effective. Early isolation induced a permanent, re-socialization-resistant reduction in Bdnf expression in the amygdala and the infralimbic cortex. Only the combined treatment of fluoxetine and re-socialization was able to recover Bdnf expression via epigenetic regulation. Moreover, the behavior improvement after the combined treatment was dependent on TrkB activity. Combined treatment specifically strengthened the input from the ventral hippocampus to the mPFC, suggesting that this pathway is an important mediator of the beneficial behavioral effects of the combined psychosocial and pharmacological treatment of abnormal aggression. Our findings suggest that synergy between pharmacological induction of plasticity and psychosocial rehabilitation could enhance the efficacy of therapies for pathological aggression.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health