Aggression is suppressed by acute stress but induced by chronic stress: Immobilization effects on aggression, hormones, and cortical 5-HT1B/ striatal dopamine D2 receptor density

Laurel R. Yohe, Hideo Suzuki, Louis R. Lucas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Scopus citations


Although it has been established by a number of investigators that a variety of stressors are associated with the induction of aggressive behavior, two specific issues remain unanswered. First, it is unclear whether the contexts surrounding stressors (e.g., stressor length and chance of winning over opponents) change outcomes regarding aggressive behavior. Second, if a relationship exists between stress and aggressive behavior, altered levels of stressrelated hormone (e.g., corticosterone [CORT]), as well as aggression-related biomarkers (e.g., testosterone [T], density of prefronto-cortical 5-HT1B receptor and striatal dopamine D2 receptor [D2r]) may contribute to changes in aggressive behavior. Thus, we examined how immobilization (with a 1-, 5-, or 10-day exposure) would impact (1) a longitudinal course of aggression toward different-sized opponents, (2) levels of CORT and T, and (3) densities of 5-HT1B receptor (5-HT1Br) in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and D2r in the striatum. It was found that, regardless of small or large opponents, a single 2-h exposure to immobilization reduced aggressive behavior (stress-suppressed aggression) over time, whereas repeated (10-day) exposure to immobilization escalated aggressive behavior (stress-induced aggression). These stress effects persisted up to 1 week of recovery from immobilization stress. Moreover, immobilized rats demonstrated elevated levels of T, but not CORT, as compared with controls. Finally, acute immobilization altered D2r densities in the shell of the nucleus accumbens, and chronic immobilization changed 5-HT1Br in the PFC, including the downregulation of 5-HT1Br densities in the right prelimbic and orbitolateral cortices. The potential relationships among stress, aggression, and 5- HT1Br/D2r roles are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)446-459
Number of pages14
JournalCognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2012



  • Animal models
  • Corticosterone
  • Dopamine
  • Serotonin
  • Stress-induced aggression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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