Blocking vasopressin 1a receptor (V1aR) in dorsal raphe or lateral habenula impairs social communication in males, but not females
Injections of a highly-specific V1aR antagonist into the lateral habenula (LHb) or dorsal raphe (DR), two targets of sex-different vasopressin, decreased male urine marking toward unfamiliar males, but not toward unfamiliar females. V1aR blockade of the LHb also decreased ultrasonic vocalizations generated in the presence of females. Social investigation, locomotion and aggressive behavior were not altered by V1aR antagonism in either area. Blocking V1aR in the LHb or DR of females had no effect, indicating V1aR action in the DR and LHb drives sex differences in social communication.
Manipulating vasopressin receptors
Current projects use RNA-interference and specific cell deletion approaches to test the behavioral effects of reducing V1aR expression in brain regions receiving sex-different vasopressin. In addition, we are generating Avpr1a-cre and Avpr1a conditional knockout mice so as to better manipulate and map this important receptor system.