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The medial amygdala and neuropeptides oxytocin (OXT) and vasopressin (VSP) have been associated aggressive behavior regulation. However, the specific mechanism involved in OXT and VSP modulation in distinct brain regions during hostile intermale aggressive behavior is undetermined. A retrograde tracer mouse model was employed using male C57BL/6 mice injected with rhodamine-conjugated latex microsphere suspensions in the right hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus. Adult male C57BL/6 mice (aged 14-16 weeks) were subjected to resident-intruder testing using juvenile intruder mice (aged 3 weeks) or adult intruder mice (aged 8 weeks). Following exposure, Fos protein expression was increased in the medial amygdala neurons of resident mice receiving the retrograde tracer. Thus, medial amygdala neurons projecting to or localized in the vicinity of the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus showed immediate early gene (IEG) expression following resident-intruder testing that was considered an indirect marker of activation. Additionally, intermale aggression-related behaviors were inhibited or modified by exposure to juvenile or adult intruders, respectively, in mice that underwent medial amygdala lesioning. Furthermore, Fos protein expression in OXT-positive neurons was attenuated. Thus, ablation of medial amygdala neurons prevented immediate early gene expression in OXT- and VSP-positive neurons in the hypothalamus, bed nucleus of stria terminalis, and medial preoptic area during intermale exposure. These findings indicate that the medial amygdala likely modulates hostile aggressive behavior associated with immediate early gene expression in OXT and VSP neurons in specific brain areas, which may actually be instrumental in beneficial social interaction-related aggressive responses associated with mating, territorial defense, and offspring protection. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Yu Wang, Zhiyi He, Chuansheng Zhao, Lei Li. Medial amygdala lesions modify aggressive behavior and immediate early gene expression in oxytocin and vasopressin neurons during intermale exposure. Behavioural brain research. 2013 May 15;245:42-9

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PMID: 23403283

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