Author(s): Larson ET, Summers CH
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Abstract Social stress from aggressive interaction is expressed differently in specific brain regions of dominant and subordinate male Anolis carolinensis. Prior to aggressive behavior, the outcome is predictable via the celerity of postorbital coloration: Dominant males exhibit more rapid eyespot darkening. Serotonergic activation is manifest rapidly (1 h) in hippocampus, nucleus accumbens and brainstem of subordinate males, and is expressed more rapidly in dominant males. Amygdalar serotonergic activation responds rapidly (1 h) in dominant males, but is expressed slowly (1 w) and chronically in subordinate males. We hypothesized that chronic (1 w) serotonin elevation, manipulated by the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor sertraline, would decrease aggressiveness and result in subordinate status. Dominant status was established in pairs of male A. carolinensis. The pairs were separated and treated with sertraline or vehicle. Sertraline was given in food to either the dominant or the subordinate male, both males or neither male for 1 week. Pairs were reintroduced, and behavior and social status recorded. When both dominant and subordinate males were treated with sertraline (or vehicle), or when subordinate males alone were treated with sertraline, previously established social relationships remained unchanged or became associative. However, when dominant males alone were treated with sertraline, their social status was reversed (43\%) or negated (57\%). Latency to eyespot darkening was significantly retarded in dominant males treated with sertraline, and aggressive displays and attacks were reduced. Chronic 5-HT elevation is consistent with subordinate status. Social status and aggressive disposition do not appear to be immutable, but may be changed by neuroendocrine mechanisms that mediate adaptation to environmental conditions like stress.
This article was published in Behav Brain Res
and referenced in Journal of Aquaculture Research & Development