Although it is well-known that defective signaling of the 5-HT system in the brain and stressful stimuli can cause psychological disorders, their combined effects on male-male aggression and sexual attractiveness remain unknown. Our research aimed at examining such effects using tryptophan hydroxylase 2 (Tph2) knockout male mice vs. a rat- or rat scent-based chronic stress model. Tph2(+/+) and Tph2(-/-) male mice were placed individually into the rat home cage (rat), a cage containing soiled rat bedding (rat scent) or a cage containing fresh bedding (control) for 5 h every other day for 56 consecutive days. In Tph2(+/+) male mice, rat-exposure decreased male-male aggression and sexual attractiveness of urine odor relative to either rat scent-exposure or control; and rat scent-exposure decreased aggression rather than sexual attractiveness of urine odor compared with control. However, such dose-dependent and long-lasting behavioral inhibitory effects vanished in Tph2(-/-) male mice. RT-PCR assay further revealed that putative regulatory genes, such as AR, ERα and GluR4 in the prefrontal cortex, and TrkB-Tc and 5-HTR1A in the hippocampus, were down-regulated at the mRNA level in either rat- or rat scent-exposed Tph2(+/+) male mice, but partially in the Tph2(-/-) ones. Hence, we suggest that the dose-dependent and long-lasting inhibitory effects of chronic predator exposure on male-male aggression, sexual attractiveness of urine odor, and mRNA expression of central regulatory genes might be mediated through the 5-HT system in the brain of male mice.
Huo, Y., Fang, Q., Shi, Y.-L., Zhang, Y.-H., & Zhang, J.-X. (2014). Chronic exposure to a predator or its scent does not inhibit maleâ€“male competition in male mice lacking brain serotonin. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 8. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnbeh.2014.00116