Postpartum Lactation-Mediated Behavioral Outcomes and Drug Responses in a Spontaneous Mouse Model of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Swarup Mitra, McKenzie Mucha, Savanah Owen, Abel Bult-Ito

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Using a spontaneous mouse model of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), the current study evaluated the influence of postpartum lactation on the expression of compulsive-like behaviors, SSRI effectiveness, and the putative role of oxytocin and dopamine in mediating these lactation specific behavioral outcomes. Compulsive-like lactating mice were less compulsive-like in nest building and marble burying and showed enhanced responsiveness to fluoxetine (50 mg/kg) in comparison to compulsive-like nonlactating and nulliparous females. Lactating mice exhibited more anxiety-like behavior in the open field test compared to the nulliparous females, while chronic fluoxetine reduced anxiety-like behaviors. Blocking the oxytocin receptor with L368-899 (5 mg/kg) in the lactating mice exacerbated the compulsive-like and depression-like behaviors. The dopamine D2 receptor (D2R) agonist bromocriptine (10 mg/kg) suppressed marble burying, nest building, and central entries in the open field, but because it also suppressed overall locomotion in the open field, activation of the D2R receptor may have inhibited overall activity nonspecifically. Lactation- and fluoxetine-mediated behavioral outcomes in compulsive-like mice, therefore, appear to be partly regulated by oxytocinergic mechanisms. Serotonin immunoreactivity and serum levels were higher in lactating compulsive-like mice compared to nonlactating and nulliparous compulsive-like females. Together, these results suggest behavioral modulation, serotonergic alterations, and changes in SSRI effectiveness during lactation in compulsive-like mice. This warrants further investigation of postpartum events in OCD patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2683-2697
Number of pages15
JournalACS Chemical Neuroscience
Issue number12
StatePublished - 20 Dec 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • anxiety-like
  • compulsive-like
  • depression-like
  • dopamine
  • Lactating
  • nonlactating
  • nulliparous
  • oxytocin
  • serotonin


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