Chronic exposure to inorganic mercury alters stress responses in male prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster)

Marissa Soto, Robert Lewis, Tom Curtis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Male, but not female, prairie voles that experience chronic exposure to inorganic mercury display aberrant social behavior - avoiding unfamiliar conspecifics rather than approaching them. The mechanisms that underlie such behavioral changes are unknown, but likely involve the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. We tested this hypothesis by providing voles of both sexes with mercury chloride in their drinking water for ten weeks and then staging same-sex dyadic encounters after which plasma was assayed for corticosterone as an index of HPA activity. Consistent with sex-specific behavioral responses previously reported, mercury-treated males had lower plasma corticosterone after social encounters than did similarly-treated females or males that consumed normal drinking water. The results suggest that mercury-treated males may be less inclined toward social engagement with conspecifics due to reduced HPA activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-55
Number of pages3
JournalHormones and Behavior
Volume109
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2019

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Arvicolinae
Mercury
Hypothalamus
Corticosterone
Drinking Water
Social Behavior
Chlorides
Grassland

Keywords

  • Approach/avoidance
  • Corticosterone
  • Heavy metals
  • HPA axis
  • Social behavior
  • Stress

Cite this

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abstract = "Male, but not female, prairie voles that experience chronic exposure to inorganic mercury display aberrant social behavior - avoiding unfamiliar conspecifics rather than approaching them. The mechanisms that underlie such behavioral changes are unknown, but likely involve the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. We tested this hypothesis by providing voles of both sexes with mercury chloride in their drinking water for ten weeks and then staging same-sex dyadic encounters after which plasma was assayed for corticosterone as an index of HPA activity. Consistent with sex-specific behavioral responses previously reported, mercury-treated males had lower plasma corticosterone after social encounters than did similarly-treated females or males that consumed normal drinking water. The results suggest that mercury-treated males may be less inclined toward social engagement with conspecifics due to reduced HPA activity.",
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Chronic exposure to inorganic mercury alters stress responses in male prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster). / Soto, Marissa; Lewis, Robert; Curtis, Tom.

In: Hormones and Behavior, Vol. 109, 01.03.2019, p. 53-55.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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