Differential effects of intraspecific interactions on the striatal dopamine system in social and non-social voles

J. T. Curtis, J. R. Stowe, Z. Wang

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We used in vivo microdialysis to examine the responses to intraspecific social interactions in the striatal dopamine systems of females of two vole species displaying vastly different social structures. Both highly social prairie voles and asocial meadow voles had similar increases in extracellular dopamine associated with mating. There was a species-specific effect of social condition on extracellular dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC). Exposure to a conspecific male significantly decreased extracellular DOPAC in female prairie voles isolated for approximately 18 h during surgical recovery. Such decrease in DOPAC was not seen if females experienced continued isolation or if they were housed with a sibling during surgical recovery. No changes in extracellular DOPAC were seen in meadow voles after manipulations of social environment. Together, our data indicate that mating-associated dopamine release is independent from mating systems. However, species-specific patterns of extracellular DOPAC suggest that social isolation may be a more stressful stimulus for the social prairie vole than for the asocial meadow vole.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1165-1173
Number of pages9
Issue number4
StatePublished - 6 Jun 2003



  • Isolation
  • Mating
  • Microtus
  • Stress
  • Striatum

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