Dopamine and opioid systems interact within the nucleus accumbens to maintain monogamous pair bonds

Academic Article


  • Prairie vole breeder pairs form monogamous pair bonds, which are maintained through the expression of selective aggression toward novel conspecifics. Here, we utilize behavioral and anatomical techniques to extend the current understanding of neural mechanisms that mediate pair bond maintenance. For both sexes, we show that pair bonding up-regulates mRNA expression for genes encoding D1-like dopamine (DA) receptors and dynorphin as well as enhances stimulated DA release within the nucleus accumbens (NAc). We next show that D1-like receptor regulation of selective aggression is mediated through downstream activation of kappa- opioid receptors (KORs) and that activation of these receptors mediates social avoidance. Finally, we also identified sex-specific alterations in KOR binding density within the NAc shell of paired males and demonstrate that this alteration contributes to the neuroprotective effect of pair bonding against drug reward. Together, these findings suggest motivational and valence processing systems interact to mediate the maintenance of social bonds.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • eLife  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 10102260
  • Author List

  • Resendez SL; Keyes PC; Day JJ; Hambro C; Austin CJ; Maina FK; Eidson LN; Porter-Stransky KA; Nev├írez N; McLean JW
  • Volume

  • 5
  • Issue

  • JULY