Vasopressin, a nonapeptide, signaling both as hormone in the blood and neuromodulator/neurotransmitter in the brain is considered to be causally involved in the pathological changes underlying anxiety and depression. In the present review we summarize experimental data obtained with Brattleboro rats as a model of congenital vasopressin-deficiency to test the hypothesis that central vasopressin signaling contributes to anxiety- and depression-like behavior. Male, female and lactating rats were studied. We focused on the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus (PVN) and the septum, two brain areas in which vasopressin is proposed to control the endocrine and behavioral stress response, respectively. The presented data support the hypothesis that the behavioral changes seen in these rats are brought about by an altered vasopressin signaling at the brain level. Whereas vasopressin synthesized and released within the hypothalamus is primarily involved in endocrine regulation, vasopressin signaling in other brain areas may contribute to anxiety- and depression-like behavioral parameters. Further studies in this context might focus particularly on the interplay between extra-hypothalamic brain areas such as the septum and the medial amygdala.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Behavioral Neuroscience
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology