Temporal patterns of limbic monoamine and plasma corticosterone response during social stress

Neuroscience. 2003;116(2):553-63. doi: 10.1016/s0306-4522(02)00708-x.


Dominant and subordinate males respond differently to the stress of social interaction. After an hour of social interaction, subordinate male Anolis carolinensis have elevated serotonergic activity in hippocampus, but dominant males do not. In other species, and using other stressors, the activation of hippocampal serotonergic activity is much more rapid than one hour. To elucidate early stress responsiveness, adult male A. carolinensis were divided into four groups: isolated controls, and pairs of males sampled after 10, 20 or 40 minutes of aggressive interaction. Development of dominant-subordinate relationships was determined by behavior and by the celerity of eyespot darkening. Serotonergic activity in the hippocampus, nucleus accumbens and amygdala was elevated rapidly and equally in both dominant and subordinate males, as were plasma corticosterone concentrations. Serotonergic activity remained elevated through 40 minutes in hippocampus and nucleus accumbens. Only subordinate males had elevated corticosterone levels at 40 minutes. Social status does not impede socially induced stress responses. Rather, rapid regulation of serotonergic stress responses appears to be a mediating factor in determining both behavioral output and social status. Temporal expressions of monoaminergic and endocrine stress responses are distinctive between males of dominant and subordinate social status. Such temporal patterns of transmitter and glucocorticoid activity may reflect neurocircuitry adaptations that result in behavior modified to fit social status.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aggression / physiology*
  • Amygdala / physiology
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Corticosterone / blood*
  • Dominance-Subordination
  • Hippocampus / physiology
  • Limbic System / physiology*
  • Lizards
  • Locus Coeruleus / physiology
  • Male
  • Nucleus Accumbens / physiology
  • Raphe Nuclei / physiology
  • Serotonin / physiology*
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology*
  • Time Factors


  • Serotonin
  • Corticosterone