Activation of serotonergic neurotransmission during the performance of aggressive behavior in rats

Bea J. van der Vegt, Natasja Lieuwes, Esther H.E.M. van de Wall, Katsunori Kato, Luis Moya-Albiol, Sonia Martínez-Sanchis, Sietse F. de Boer, Jaap M. Koolhaas

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High aggression is often linked to lowered serotonin (5-HT) neurotransmission. Although this may hold for high aggression as a trait characteristic of an individual, serotonergic activity is probably increased during performance of aggressive behavior. To test this hypothesis, first, the 5-HT1A agonist alnespirone and gamma aminobutyric acid-A agonist muscimol were administered into the dorsal raphe nucleus. These treatments, which inhibit 5-HT neuronal activity, were shown to decrease performance of aggressive behavior. Second, after a resident-intruder test, the activation of 5-HT neurons (measured by c-fos expression) was increased in high-aggressive rats, compared with low-aggressive rats or control rats that were not subjected to a social confrontation. Results show that performance of aggressive behavior increases 5-HT neuronal activity and that preventing this activation inhibits expression of aggressive behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)667-674
Number of pages8
JournalBehavioral Neuroscience
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug-2003


  • Aggression
  • Animals
  • GABA Agonists
  • Male
  • Muscimol
  • Neurons
  • Rats
  • Serotonin
  • Serotonin Receptor Agonists
  • Spiro Compounds
  • Synaptic Transmission

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