The male mouse medial amygdala is an important site for integration of main and accessory olfactory information. Exposure to biologically relevant chemical signals from the same species (conspecific) results in a general pattern of immediate early gene (IEG) expression in medial amygdala different from that elicited by chemical signals from other species (heterospecific), of no demonstrable biological relevance. The neuropeptide oxytocin (OT) in the medial amygdala has been shown to be necessary for social recognition. In the present set of experiments, male mice with i.c.v. cannulae were injected with either PBS (vehicle control) or oxytocin antagonist (OTA) (1 ng in 1 μl PBS) and exposed to conspecific (female mouse urine) and heterospecific (steer urine and worn cat collar) chemical stimuli. Similarly to our previous report with intact male mice [Samuelsen and Meredith (2009a) Brain Res 1263:33-42], PBS-injected mice exhibited different immediate early gene (IEG) expression patterns in the medial amygdala according to the biological relevance of the chemical stimuli. However, OTA injection eliminates the increase in IEG expression in the medial amygdala to any of the tested conspecific or heterospecific stimuli. Importantly, OTA injection disrupts avoidance of an unfamiliar predator odor, worn cat collar. Here we suggest that the disruption of social recognition behavior in male mice with altered OT receptor activity results from an inability of the medial amygdala to process relevant conspecific (and heterospecific) chemosensory signals.
Copyright © 2011 IBRO. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.