Early maternal rejection affects the development of monoaminergic systems and adult abusive parenting in rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta)

Behav Neurosci. 2006 Oct;120(5):1017-24. doi: 10.1037/0735-7044.120.5.1017.


This study investigated the effects of early exposure to variable parenting style and infant abuse on cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) concentrations of monoamine metabolites and examined the role of monoaminergic function in the intergenerational transmission of infant abuse in rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta). Forty-three infants reared by their biological mothers and 15 infants that were cross-fostered at birth and reared by unrelated mothers were followed longitudinally through their first 3 years of life or longer. Approximately half of the infants were reared by abusive mothers and half by nonabusive controls. Abused infants did not differ from controls in CSF concentrations of 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA), homovanillic acid (HVA), or 3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenylgycol (MHPG). Abused infants, however, were exposed to higher rates of maternal rejection, and highly rejected infants had lower CSF 5-HIAA and HVA than low-rejection infants. The abused females who became abusive mothers in adulthood had lower CSF 5-HIAA than the abused females who did not. A similar trend was also observed among the cross-fostered females, suggesting that low serotonergic function resulting from early exposure to high rates of maternal rejection plays a role in the intergenerational transmission of infant abuse.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aggression / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Brain / growth & development*
  • Female
  • Homovanillic Acid / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Hydroxyindoleacetic Acid / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Maternal Behavior / physiology*
  • Methoxyhydroxyphenylglycol / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Rejection, Psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological / cerebrospinal fluid*


  • Methoxyhydroxyphenylglycol
  • Hydroxyindoleacetic Acid
  • Homovanillic Acid