Serotonin, but not dopamine, metabolites are increased in selected brain regions of subordinate male rats in a colony environment

Brain Res. 1991 Dec 24;568(1-2):61-6. doi: 10.1016/0006-8993(91)91379-f.


Subordinate male laboratory rats maintained in mixed-sex groups in a Visible Burrow System habitat show a complex pattern of stress-related changes including enhanced defensive behavior, early mortality and increased voluntary ethanol consumption. Analysis of serotonin (5-HT) and 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) levels indicated that 5-HT levels do not differ between colony subordinates, colony dominants, and singly-housed control animals. However, 5-HIAA levels were higher in subordinates than either dominants or control animals in the preoptic area, amygdala, hippocampus, and spinal cord, and, were higher than dominants only, in entorhinal cortex. Subordinates' regional 5-HIAA/5-HT ratios were reliably higher than those of dominant or control animals in midbrain and spinal cord and reliably higher than dominants only, in hypothalamus. Dopamine (DA) and dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC) levels and DA/DOPAC ratios were affected neither in hypothalamus nor midbrain. These findings suggest that a consistent increase of 5-HIAA levels in selected brain regions of subordinate rats may represent a biological substrate for a well-characterized pattern of alterations in defensive behaviors for these animals.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Dominance-Subordination*
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Hydroxyindoleacetic Acid / metabolism
  • Hypothalamus / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mesencephalon / metabolism
  • Organ Specificity
  • Rats
  • Serotonin / metabolism*
  • Spinal Cord / metabolism*


  • Serotonin
  • Hydroxyindoleacetic Acid
  • Dopamine