3.3
Impact Factor
This article is part of the Research Topic Understanding Stress Resilience

Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Behav. Neurosci., 01 May 2013 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnbeh.2013.00035

Female vulnerability to the development of depression-like behavior in a rat model of intimate partner violence is related to anxious temperament, coping responses, and amygdala vasopressin receptor 1a expression

  • 1Laboratory of Behavioral Genetics, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Brain Mind Institute, Lausanne, Switzerland
  • 2Child and Adolescent Service of Psychiatry, Hospital University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland

Exposure to violence is traumatic and an important source of mental health disturbance, yet the factors associated with victimization remain incompletely understood. The aim of the present study was to investigate factors related to vulnerability to depression-like behaviors in females. An animal model of intimate partner violence, which was previously shown to produce long-lasting behavioral effects in females as a result of male partner aggression, was used. The associations among the degree of partner aggression, the long-term consequences on depressive-like behavior, and the impact of the anxious temperament of the female were examined. In a separate group, pre-selected neural markers were evaluated in the amygdala and the lateral septum of females. Expression was examined by analyses of targeted candidate genes, serotonin transporter (slc6a4), vasopressin receptor 1a, (avpr1a), and oxytocin receptor (oxtr). Structural equation modeling revealed that the female's temperament moderated depressive-like behavior that was induced by cohabitation aggression from the male partner. More specifically, increased floating in the forced swim test following male aggression was most apparent in females exhibiting more anxiety-like behavior (i.e., less open arm exploration in an elevated plus-maze) prior to the cohabitation. Aggression reduced slc6a4 levels in the lateral septum. However, the interaction between partner aggression and the anxious temperament of the female affected the expression of avpr1a in the amygdala. Although, aggression reduced levels of this marker in females with high anxiety, no such pattern was observed in females with low anxiety. These results identify important characteristics in females that moderate the impact of male aggression. Furthermore, these results provide potential therapeutic targets of interest in the amygdala and the lateral septum to help improve post-stress behavioral pathology and increase resilience to social adversity.

Keywords: vulnerability indicators, resilience indicators, domestic violence, vasopressin receptor subtype 1a, serotonin, anxiety, social stress, individual differences

Citation: Poirier GL, Cordero MI and Sandi C (2013) Female vulnerability to the development of depression-like behavior in a rat model of intimate partner violence is related to anxious temperament, coping responses, and amygdala vasopressin receptor 1a expression. Front. Behav. Neurosci. 7:35. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2013.00035

Received: 30 December 2012; Accepted: 15 April 2013;
Published online: 01 May 2013.

Edited by:

Michael V. Baratta, University of Colorado Boulder, USA

Reviewed by:

D. Caroline Blanchard, University of Hawaii at Manoa, USA
Matthew W. Hale, La Trobe University, Australia

Copyright © 2013 Poirier, Cordero and Sandi. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.

*Correspondence: G. L. Poirier, Laboratory of Behavioral Genetics, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne SV, Brain Mind Institute, AAB201 (Bâtiment AAB), Station 19, CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland. e-mail: guillaume.poirier@gmail.com