μ-Opioid receptors within subregions of the striatum mediate pair bond formation through parallel yet distinct reward mechanisms

Shanna L. Resendez, MacKenzie Dome, Gwen Gormley, Dena Franco, Natalie Nevárez, Arif A. Hamid, Brandon J. Aragona

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations

Abstract

The prairie vole is a socially monogamous rodent that is an excellent animal model for studies of the neurobiology of social attachment. Such studies have demonstrated that activation of reward circuitry during social interactions facilitates pair bond formation. Within this circuitry, μ-opioid receptors (MORs) modulate naturally rewarding behavior in an anatomically segregated manner; MORs located throughout the striatum (dorsal striatum, NAc core, and the entire NAc shell) are implicated in general motivational processes, whereas those located specifically within the dorsomedial NAc shell mediate positive hedonics (and are referred to as a "hedonic hotspot"). The purpose of the present study was to determine whether MORs within these distinct subregions differentially mediate pair bond formation. We first used receptor autoradiography to compare MOR binding densities between these regions. MOR binding was significantly higher in the NAc core and dorsomedial NAc shell compared with the ventral NAc shell. We next used partner preference testing to determine whether MORs within these subregions differentially mediate pair bonding. Blockade of MORs using 1 or 3 μg of H-d-Phe-Cys-Tyr-d-Trp-Arg-Thr-Pen-Thr-NH2 within the dorsal striatum decreased mating during the cohabitation period and inhibited partner preference formation. In contrast, blockade of MORs within dorsomedial NAc shell inhibited partner preference formation without effecting mating behavior, whereas other regions were not involved. Thus, MORs within the dorsal striatum mediate partner preference formation via impairment of mating, whereas those in the dorsomedial NAc shell appear to mediate pair bond formation through the positive hedonics associated with mating.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9140-9149
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Volume33
Issue number21
DOIs
StatePublished - May 22 2013
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'μ-Opioid receptors within subregions of the striatum mediate pair bond formation through parallel yet distinct reward mechanisms'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this