Serotonin 1A agonism decreases affiliative behavior in pair-bonded titi monkeys

Relatively little is known about serotonergic involvement in pair-bonding despite its putative role in regulating social behavior. Here we sought to determine if pharmacological elevation of serotonin 1A (5-HT1A) receptor activity would lead to changes in social behavior in pair-bonded male titi monkeys (Callicebus cupreus). Adult males in established heterosexual pairs were injected daily with the selective 5-HT1A agonist 8-OH-DPAT or saline for 15days using a within-subjects design. Social behavior with the female pair-mate was quantified, and plasma concentrations of oxytocin, vasopressin, and cortisol were measured. When treated with saline, subjects showed reduced plasma oxytocin concentrations, while 8-OH-DPAT treatment buffered this decrease. Treatment with 8-OH-DPAT also led to decreased plasma cortisol 15minutes post-injection and decreased social behavior directed toward the pair-mate including approaching, initiating contact, lipsmacking, and grooming. The reduction in affiliative behavior seen with increased activity at 5-HT1A receptors indicates a substantial role of serotonin activity in the expression of social behavior. In addition, results indicate that the effects of 5-HT1A agonism on social behavior in adulthood differ between rodents and primates.

Keywords: 8-OH-DPAT; Cortisol; Monogamy; Oxytocin; Pair-bonding; Primate; Social behavior; Vasopressin.


Biology and Biomarkers

Rebecca Larke