Parent-offspring cohabitation after weaning inhibits partner preference and alters central oxytocin and dopamine systems in adult mandarin vole
In some mammals, offspring may live with their parents for a very long time after weaning, but little is known about the effect of post-weaning parent-offspring cohabitation on the behavioral and neurobiological development of offspring. Here, we explored the effect of this experience on partner preference in adult mandarin vole (Microtus mandarinus). Levels of central oxytocin (OT), tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), as well as OT receptor (OTR), dopamine D1-type and D2-type receptors (D1R and D2R) mRNA expression in the nucleus accumbens (NAcc) and medial amygdala (MeA) were also measured. Our data showed that post-weaning living with parents inhibited the preference to partner over an unfamiliar opposite-sex conspecific. Voles with this experience possessed more OT-but less TH-immunoreactive neurons as compared to the control. Additionally, males with this experience had less D2R and OTR mRNA expression in the NAcc than the control while females had less D2R mRNA expression in the NAcc, but more OTR mRNA expression in the MeA. These findings demonstrate that post-weaning parent-offspring cohabitation inhibits the partner preference formation at adulthood, and these changes may be associated with alterations in the levels of central OT and DA, and their receptor mRNA expression in specific brain regions.
Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00359-018-1262-4
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