Resident-intruder trait aggression is associated with differences in lysine vasopressin and serotonin receptor 1A (5-HT1A) mRNA expression in the brain of pre-pubertal female domestic pigs (Sus scrofa)

R D'Eath, E Ormandy, Alistair Lawrence, B E H Sumner, S L Meddle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Aggressive behaviour exhibited by domestic pigs following encounters with unfamiliar individuals is a serious welfare and economical problem. Aggression resulting in skin lesions is similarly prevalent in prepubertal pigs of either sex. Little is known about the neural circuits and neuropeptides that control aggression in the pig. Because there is evidence for the involvement of the vasopressin and serotonergic systems in the regulation of aggressive behaviour in male mammals, we sought differences using quantitative in situ hybridisation of vasopressin and serotonin 1A receptor (5-HT1A) mRNA expression within specific brain regions of aggressive and nonaggressive prepubertal female pigs. The number of cells expressing vasopressin mRNA was significantly higher in aggressive pigs in the medial amygdala, lateral septum (LS) and showed a similar trend in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BnST) but not the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) or supraoptic nucleus. The 5-HT1A receptor was widely expressed through the porcine brain and a significantly lower intensity (silver grain density) of 5-HT1A mRNA expression was observed in the BnST. In the medial amygdala and LS fewer cells expressed 5-HT1A mRNA in aggressive pigs but no differences were found in the PVN. In the absence of inbred strains or selection lines, these findings have shown that prior identification of phenotypic behavioural extremes in a population in advance of neural studies is a useful technique. Moreover, these findings support a central role for vasopressin and serotonin in the mediation of high trait aggression in prepubertal female pigs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)679-686
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neuroendocrinology
Volume17
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2005

Keywords

  • pigs
  • swine
  • Sus scrofa
  • aggression
  • vasopressin
  • serotonin
  • 5-HT1A
  • females
  • in situ hybridisation
  • MALE GOLDEN-HAMSTERS
  • MATERNAL AGGRESSION
  • PRAIRIE VOLES
  • HOUSE MICE
  • RAT-BRAIN
  • INDIVIDUAL AGGRESSIVENESS
  • ANTERIOR HYPOTHALAMUS
  • SPECIES-DIFFERENCES
  • SOCIAL RECOGNITION
  • SEPTAL VASOPRESSIN

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