The effects of oxytocin and vasopressin on partner preferences in male and female prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster)

Behav Neurosci. 1999 Oct;113(5):1071-9. doi: 10.1037//0735-7044.113.5.1071.


This study compared the effects of centrally administered oxytocin (OT) and arginine vasopressin (AVP) on partner preference formation and social contact in male and female prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster). After 1 hr of cohabitation and pretreatment with either AVP or OT, both males and females exhibited increased social contact and significant preference for the familiar partner. After pretreatment with either an OT receptor antagonist (OTA) or an AVP (V1a) receptor antagonist (AVPA), neither OT nor AVP induced a partner preference. In addition, treatment with OT+OTA or AVP+AVPA was associated with low levels of social contact in both sexes. Either AVP or OT is sufficient to facilitate social contact if either the OT or AVP receptor is available. However, the formation of partner preferences may require access to both AVP and OT receptors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arginine Vasopressin / analogs & derivatives
  • Arginine Vasopressin / pharmacology*
  • Arvicolinae
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Female
  • Hormone Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxytocin / pharmacology*
  • Pair Bond*
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Behavior*
  • Vasoconstrictor Agents / pharmacology*


  • Hormone Antagonists
  • Vasoconstrictor Agents
  • Arginine Vasopressin
  • Oxytocin
  • vasopressin, 1-(1-mercaptocyclohexaneacetic acid)-2-(O- methyl-L-tyrosine)-8-L-arginine-