Growing up in the family or growing up alone influences behavior and hormones, but not arginine vasopressin receptor 1a expression in male African striped mice.
Published Web Locationhttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24631307
In many species males display alternative reproductive tactics (ARTs). While males of different tactics differ behaviorally in the field, it is often not known whether these behavioral differences would also occur under standardized laboratory conditions, nor how ARTs are regulated by the brain. In the present study we kept male African striped mice (Rhabdomys pumilio) in captivity either in family groups or solitary, to mimic ARTs observed in the field. This allowed us to study these males behaviorally under standardized conditions, to replicate physiological findings from the field, and to study the expression of the arginine vasopressin 1a receptor (AVPR1a) in their brains. Changes in either peptide release or receptor expression (or both) might regulate ARTs with differential timelines, with peptide secretion being faster than receptor expression. As observed in the field, family living males had higher corticosterone but lower testosterone levels than singly housed males. Surprisingly, singly housed males were less aggressive while at the same time having higher testosterone levels. We found no differences in AVPR1a expression. In a previous study it was shown that singly housed males have higher levels of AVP stored in their brain, which potentially could be secreted when the social situation changes, for example to establish social bonds. Our study on AVPR1a suggests the hypothesis that, given that the receptor distribution and expression of singly housed males do not differ from that of family-living males, the brains of singly-housed males have a similar capacity to be responsive to AVP when given the chance to interact socially.