Hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus modulates maternal aggression in rats: effects of ibotenic acid lesion and oxytocin antisense

Physiol Behav. 1998 Feb 1;63(3):351-9. doi: 10.1016/s0031-9384(97)00434-4.


Central oxytocin (OT) appears to be crucial for maternal behavior. OT, through the parvocellular neurons of the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN), can exert its physiological and behavioral effects by acting on OT receptors in nonpituitary projections of the PVN. The purpose of the present study was to analyze the role of the PVN and OT on maternal aggressive behavior in two different periods after delivery: on the fifth day (period of high aggressiveness) and on the eighteenth day postpartum (period of low aggressiveness). In the first experiment, ibotenic acid was injected into the PVN in order to lesion the parvocellular neurons. A second experiment was designed to study more specifically the effects of OT using the antisense technique. On the fifth day postpartum, both the PVN lesion by the ibotenic acid and a possible acute reduction of OT synthesis by the antisense administration in that nucleus increased maternal aggressive behavior, while on the eighteenth day postpartum no effect was recorded. We may conclude that central projections of the PVN modulate maternal aggression during a restricted period after delivery, only when lactating females show naturally high levels of aggressive behaviors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aggression / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Agonists / toxicity*
  • Female
  • Ibotenic Acid / toxicity*
  • Maternal Behavior / physiology*
  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense / pharmacology*
  • Oxytocin / physiology*
  • Paraventricular Hypothalamic Nucleus / anatomy & histology
  • Paraventricular Hypothalamic Nucleus / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Weight Gain / drug effects


  • Excitatory Amino Acid Agonists
  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense
  • Ibotenic Acid
  • Oxytocin