The effect glucocorticoids on aggressiveness in established colonies of rats

E. Mikics, Boglárka Barsy, J. Haller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

32 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

It was repeatedly shown that glucocorticoids increase aggressiveness when subjects are socially challenged. However, the interaction between challenge exposure and glucocorticoid effects was not investigated yet. We studied this interaction by assessing the effects of glucocorticoids in established colonies of rats, i.e. in rats that were not exposed to an acute social challenge. Aggressiveness was high immediately after colony formation but decreased sharply within 4 days and remained stable thereafter. Mild dominance relations were observed in 11 colonies (65%). Approximately three weeks after colony formation, rats remained undisturbed or were injected with vehicle or corticosterone. Routine colony life was followed for 1 h after treatments. Injections per se induced a mild and transient behavioral activation: resting was reduced, whereas exploration, social and agonistic interactions were increased. The change lasted about 15 min. Corticosterone-although plasma corticosterone levels were increased-had no specific effect, as the behavior of vehicle- and corticosterone-treated rats was similar. Social rank had a minor impact on the results. In contrast, the pro-aggressive effects of corticosterone were robust under conditions of social challenge and were maintained after repeated exposure to aggressive encounters. It occurs that an acute increase in glucocorticoids promotes social challenge-induced aggressiveness, but does not increase aggressiveness under routine conditions. We hypothesize that the pro-aggressive effects of glucocorticoids develop in conjunction with challenge-induced neuronal (e.g. monoaminergic) activation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160-170
Number of pages11
JournalPsychoneuroendocrinology
Volume32
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2007

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Corticosterone
Glucocorticoids
Social Conditions
Interpersonal Relations
Injections
Therapeutics

Keywords

  • Aggression
  • Behavior
  • Established colony
  • Glucocorticoid
  • Rat
  • Social

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Psychology(all)

Cite this

The effect glucocorticoids on aggressiveness in established colonies of rats. / Mikics, E.; Barsy, Boglárka; Haller, J.

In: Psychoneuroendocrinology, Vol. 32, No. 2, 02.2007, p. 160-170.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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