κ-Opioid receptors within the nucleus accumbens shell mediate pair bond maintenance.
The prairie vole is a socially monogamous species in which breeder pairs typically show strong and selective pair bonds. The establishment of a pair bond is associated with a behavioral transition from general affiliation to aggressive rejection of novel conspecifics. This "selective aggression" is indicative of mate guarding that is necessary to maintain the initial pair bond. In the laboratory, the neurobiology of this behavior is studied using resident-intruder testing. Although it is well established that social behaviors in other species are mediated by endogenous opioid systems, opiate regulation of pair bond maintenance has never been studied. Here, we used resident-intruder testing to determine whether endogenous opioids within brain motivational circuitry mediate selective aggression in prairie voles. We first show that peripheral blockade of κ-opioid receptors with the antagonist norbinaltorphimine (nor-BNI; 100 mg/kg), but not with the preferential μ-opioid receptor antagonist naloxone (1, 10, or 30 mg/kg), decreased selective aggression in males. We then provide the first comprehensive characterization of κ- and μ-opioid receptors in the prairie vole brain. Finally, we demonstrate that blockade of κ-opioid receptors (500 ng nor-BNI) within the nucleus accumbens (NAc) shell abolishes selective aggression in both sexes, but blockade of these receptors within the NAc core enhances this behavior specifically in females. Blockade of κ-opioid receptors within the ventral pallidum or μ-opioid receptors with the specific μ-opioid receptor antagonist H-D-Phe-Cys-Tyr-D-Trp-Arg-Thr-PenThr-NH2 (1 ng CTAP) within the NAc shell had no effect in either sex. Thus, κ-opioid receptors within the NAc shell mediate aversive social motivation that is critical for pair bond maintenance.
Program in Neuroscience, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, USA.
SourceThe Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience 32:20 2012 May 16 pg 6771-84
Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
Receptors, Opioid, kappa
Receptors, Opioid, mu
Pub Type(s)Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.