Effects of progesterone on male-mediated infant-directed aggression

Johanna S. Schneider, Carly Burgess, Teresa H Horton, Jon E. Levine*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Many species that engage in parental behavior exhibit infanticide under certain circumstances. The neural signals regulating the transition from infant care giver to infant killer and back remain unclear. Previously we demonstrated that progesterone (P) and its receptor (PR) have inhibitory effects on parental behavior and increase infant-directed aggression in male mice. In the present studies we sought to elucidate the mechanisms by which the effects of P are manifested. Because the onset of parental behavior in females is associated with the withdrawal of P at the end of pregnancy we tested the hypothesis that withdrawal of P would similarly enhance parental behavior in males. Virgin male mice were implanted with P or vehicle for 21 days, replicating the duration of pregnancy in females. Tests were run for parental and infanticidal behavior 5 days after removal of the capsules. P increased the proportion of nonparental males that attacked pups. However, neither the number of males exhibiting parental care nor the quality of care was affected by P treatment. Serum P and testosterone (T) levels were not different from controls at the time of behavioral testing indicating continued elevations in peripheral hormones are not required for the expression of infanticide. In conclusion, withdrawal of P does not trigger the onset of parental behavior in males. Rather, prior exposure to P induces persistent infanticidal behavior in adult male mice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)340-344
Number of pages5
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Volume199
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 16 2009

Fingerprint

Aggression
Progesterone
Infanticide
Infant Behavior
Infant Care
Pregnancy
Quality of Health Care
Caregivers
Capsules
Testosterone
Hormones
Serum

Keywords

  • Infanticide
  • Parental behavior
  • Paternal behavior
  • Progesterone
  • Testosterone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience

Cite this

Schneider, Johanna S. ; Burgess, Carly ; Horton, Teresa H ; Levine, Jon E. / Effects of progesterone on male-mediated infant-directed aggression. In: Behavioural Brain Research. 2009 ; Vol. 199, No. 2. pp. 340-344.
@article{0cb3bee212694938816f0fcf2a89c5fb,
title = "Effects of progesterone on male-mediated infant-directed aggression",
abstract = "Many species that engage in parental behavior exhibit infanticide under certain circumstances. The neural signals regulating the transition from infant care giver to infant killer and back remain unclear. Previously we demonstrated that progesterone (P) and its receptor (PR) have inhibitory effects on parental behavior and increase infant-directed aggression in male mice. In the present studies we sought to elucidate the mechanisms by which the effects of P are manifested. Because the onset of parental behavior in females is associated with the withdrawal of P at the end of pregnancy we tested the hypothesis that withdrawal of P would similarly enhance parental behavior in males. Virgin male mice were implanted with P or vehicle for 21 days, replicating the duration of pregnancy in females. Tests were run for parental and infanticidal behavior 5 days after removal of the capsules. P increased the proportion of nonparental males that attacked pups. However, neither the number of males exhibiting parental care nor the quality of care was affected by P treatment. Serum P and testosterone (T) levels were not different from controls at the time of behavioral testing indicating continued elevations in peripheral hormones are not required for the expression of infanticide. In conclusion, withdrawal of P does not trigger the onset of parental behavior in males. Rather, prior exposure to P induces persistent infanticidal behavior in adult male mice.",
keywords = "Infanticide, Parental behavior, Paternal behavior, Progesterone, Testosterone",
author = "Schneider, {Johanna S.} and Carly Burgess and Horton, {Teresa H} and Levine, {Jon E.}",
year = "2009",
month = "5",
day = "16",
doi = "10.1016/j.bbr.2008.12.019",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "199",
pages = "340--344",
journal = "Behavioural Brain Research",
issn = "0166-4328",
publisher = "Elsevier",
number = "2",

}

Effects of progesterone on male-mediated infant-directed aggression. / Schneider, Johanna S.; Burgess, Carly; Horton, Teresa H; Levine, Jon E.

In: Behavioural Brain Research, Vol. 199, No. 2, 16.05.2009, p. 340-344.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Effects of progesterone on male-mediated infant-directed aggression

AU - Schneider, Johanna S.

AU - Burgess, Carly

AU - Horton, Teresa H

AU - Levine, Jon E.

PY - 2009/5/16

Y1 - 2009/5/16

N2 - Many species that engage in parental behavior exhibit infanticide under certain circumstances. The neural signals regulating the transition from infant care giver to infant killer and back remain unclear. Previously we demonstrated that progesterone (P) and its receptor (PR) have inhibitory effects on parental behavior and increase infant-directed aggression in male mice. In the present studies we sought to elucidate the mechanisms by which the effects of P are manifested. Because the onset of parental behavior in females is associated with the withdrawal of P at the end of pregnancy we tested the hypothesis that withdrawal of P would similarly enhance parental behavior in males. Virgin male mice were implanted with P or vehicle for 21 days, replicating the duration of pregnancy in females. Tests were run for parental and infanticidal behavior 5 days after removal of the capsules. P increased the proportion of nonparental males that attacked pups. However, neither the number of males exhibiting parental care nor the quality of care was affected by P treatment. Serum P and testosterone (T) levels were not different from controls at the time of behavioral testing indicating continued elevations in peripheral hormones are not required for the expression of infanticide. In conclusion, withdrawal of P does not trigger the onset of parental behavior in males. Rather, prior exposure to P induces persistent infanticidal behavior in adult male mice.

AB - Many species that engage in parental behavior exhibit infanticide under certain circumstances. The neural signals regulating the transition from infant care giver to infant killer and back remain unclear. Previously we demonstrated that progesterone (P) and its receptor (PR) have inhibitory effects on parental behavior and increase infant-directed aggression in male mice. In the present studies we sought to elucidate the mechanisms by which the effects of P are manifested. Because the onset of parental behavior in females is associated with the withdrawal of P at the end of pregnancy we tested the hypothesis that withdrawal of P would similarly enhance parental behavior in males. Virgin male mice were implanted with P or vehicle for 21 days, replicating the duration of pregnancy in females. Tests were run for parental and infanticidal behavior 5 days after removal of the capsules. P increased the proportion of nonparental males that attacked pups. However, neither the number of males exhibiting parental care nor the quality of care was affected by P treatment. Serum P and testosterone (T) levels were not different from controls at the time of behavioral testing indicating continued elevations in peripheral hormones are not required for the expression of infanticide. In conclusion, withdrawal of P does not trigger the onset of parental behavior in males. Rather, prior exposure to P induces persistent infanticidal behavior in adult male mice.

KW - Infanticide

KW - Parental behavior

KW - Paternal behavior

KW - Progesterone

KW - Testosterone

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=61349126092&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=61349126092&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/j.bbr.2008.12.019

DO - 10.1016/j.bbr.2008.12.019

M3 - Article

C2 - 19146882

AN - SCOPUS:61349126092

VL - 199

SP - 340

EP - 344

JO - Behavioural Brain Research

JF - Behavioural Brain Research

SN - 0166-4328

IS - 2

ER -