Vasopressin infusion into the lateral septum of adult male rats rescues progesterone-induced impairment in social recognition

Neuroscience. 2013 Aug 29:246:52-8. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2013.04.047. Epub 2013 Apr 30.


It is well established that social recognition memory is mediated, in part, by arginine vasopressin (AVP). AVP cells within the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BST) and medial amygdala (MeA) send AVP-ergic projections to the lateral septum (LS). We have demonstrated that progesterone treatment decreases AVP immunoreactivity within the BST, the MeA and the LS, and that progesterone treatment impairs social recognition. These data suggested that progesterone may impair social recognition memory by decreasing AVP. In the present experiment, we hypothesized that infusions of AVP into the LS would rescue the progesterone-induced impairment in social recognition within adult male rats. One week after adult male rats underwent cannula surgery, they were given systemic injections of either a physiological dose of progesterone or oil control for 3 days. Four hours after the last injection, we tested social recognition memory using the social discrimination paradigm, a two-trial test that is based on the natural propensity for rats to be highly motivated to investigate novel conspecifics. Immediately after the first exposure to a juvenile, each animal received bilateral infusions of either AVP or artificial cerebrospinal fluid into the LS. Our results show that, as expected, control animals exhibited normal social discrimination. In corroboration with our previous results, animals given progesterone have impaired social discrimination. Interestingly, animals treated with progesterone and AVP exhibited normal social discrimination, suggesting that AVP treatment rescued the impairment in social recognition caused by progesterone. These data also further support a role for progesterone in modulating vasopressin-dependent behavior within the male brain.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Infusions, Intraventricular
  • Male
  • Progesterone / administration & dosage*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Recognition, Psychology / drug effects
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology*
  • Septal Nuclei / drug effects
  • Septal Nuclei / physiology*
  • Social Behavior*
  • Vasopressins / administration & dosage*


  • Vasopressins
  • Progesterone