Differential lateral septal vasopressin in wild-type rats: correlation with aggression

Horm Behav. 1997 Apr;31(2):136-44. doi: 10.1006/hbeh.1997.1375.


The vasopressin (VP)-containing projections from the cells of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis to the lateral septum (LS) are sexually dimorphic and dependent on gonadal steroids. Recently, the difference in VP distribution found among both sexes was also demonstrated in male mice genetically selected for different levels of intermale aggression. In the present study we examined whether this differential VP distribution in males also exists in an outbred strain of wild-type rats. After the animals were tested for their level of aggression, the VP content and the fiber density of the LS were measured using radioimmunoassay and immunocytochemistry, respectively. In addition, basal levels of plasma testosterone (T) were measured. Both biochemical data and immunocytochemical data revealed a negative correlation between VP and intermale aggression. Aggressive rats exhibited low levels of VP whereas intermediate and nonaggressive animals showed higher levels. Differences in adult levels of T were not found. The results are in accordance with the observations previously found in male mice, reconfirming the correlation between lateral septal VP and aggression.

MeSH terms

  • Aggression / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Animals, Wild
  • Brain Mapping
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Rats / physiology*
  • Septal Nuclei / physiology*
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Sexual Maturation / physiology
  • Testosterone / blood
  • Vasopressins / physiology*


  • Vasopressins
  • Testosterone