These authors contributed equally to this study.
Neuroendocrine and Behavioural Responses to Exposure to an Infant in Male Prairie Voles
Article first published online: 10 MAY 2012
© 2012 The Authors. Journal of Neuroendocrinology © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Journal of Neuroendocrinology
Volume 24, Issue 6, pages 874–886, June 2012
How to Cite
Kenkel, W. M., Paredes, J., Yee, J. R., Pournajafi-Nazarloo, H., Bales, K. L. and Carter, C. S. (2012), Neuroendocrine and Behavioural Responses to Exposure to an Infant in Male Prairie Voles. Journal of Neuroendocrinology, 24: 874–886. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2826.2012.02301.x
- Issue published online: 10 MAY 2012
- Article first published online: 10 MAY 2012
- Accepted manuscript online: 22 FEB 2012 02:17PM EST
- Received 3 October 2011, revised 6 February 2012, accepted 16 February 2012
- alloparental behaviour;
- corticotrophin-releasing hormone;
- prairie voles
Paternal behaviour and pair-bond formation are defining characteristics of social monogamy. However, in comparison to pair-bonding, the endocrine factors associated with the male care of young are not well studied. In the present study, plasma concentrations of oxytocin, vasopressin and corticosterone (CORT) were measured in reproductively naïve male prairie voles as a function of exposure to an infant or control manipulations (i.e. handling or exposure to a wooden dowel). Plasma oxytocin concentrations were transiently elevated within 10 min of pup exposure. Although plasma CORT concentration typically increases after handling, after 10 min of pup exposure, the concentration of plasma CORT was not increased, suggesting an attenuation of CORT release by pup exposure. Group differences in the concentrations of plasma hormones were no longer detected at 20 or 60 min after treatment. These patterns of rapid change in the concentrations of plasma oxytocin and CORT were observed in both juvenile and adult males but not detected after control procedures. Plasma vasopressin, assessed only in adult males, did not vary as a function of pup exposure or other manipulations. In the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus, pup exposure also increased activation (as assessed by the measurement of c-Fos) of neurones that stained for either oxytocin or vasopressin, whereas it decreased c-Fos expression in neurones stained for corticotrophin-releasing hormone. In addition, brief pup exposure (20 min) facilitated subsequent partner preference formation when alloparental males and pup attackers were considered as a group. In the context of other studies, these data support the hypothesis that neuroendocrine changes associated with male alloparental behaviour are related to those implicated in pair-bonding.