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Oxytocin Receptors Regulate Social Preference in Zebrafish.

Journal article
Authors Jenny Landin
Daniel Hovey
Bo Xu
David Lagman
Anna Zettergren
Dan Larhammar
Petronella Kettunen
Lars Westberg
Published in Scientific reports
Volume 10
Issue 1
ISSN 2045-2322
Publication year 2020
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology
Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Pharmacology
Language en
Subject categories Child and adolescent psychiatry, Neuroscience


With a strong tendency to socialise, the zebrafish is a useful model to study social behaviour, with implications for better treatments of social impairments, for instance in autism spectrum disorders. Although oxytocin is crucial for social behaviour in mammals, the importance of the fish orthologue - isotocin or zebrafish oxytocin (zOT) - for social behaviour in zebrafish is unclear. The aims of this study were firstly, to elucidate the receptor specificity of zOT and the related vasotocin or zebrafish vasopressin (zVP; the orthologue of mammalian vasopressin) and the nonpeptidergic oxytocin receptor antagonist L-368,899, and secondly to investigate if L-368,899 inhibits social preference in zebrafish. The potencies of ligands were evaluated for zOT/zVP family receptors in HEK293 cells. Adult and larval zebrafish were treated with L-368,899 or vehicle and subsequently assessed for social behaviour and anxiety (adults only). The antagonist L-368,899 specifically inhibited the two zOT receptors, but not the two zVP-1 receptors. The antagonist decreased social preference in adult and larval zebrafish. It did not affect anxiety in adults. These results indicate that endogenous zOT, and possibly zVP, is involved in social behaviour in zebrafish via either or both of the two zOT receptors, and show promise for future explorations of the anatomy and evolution of networks underlying social behaviour.

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