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Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research

On-line version ISSN 1414-431X


MANHAES DE CASTRO, R. et al. Reduction of intraspecific aggression in adult rats by neonatal treatment with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. Braz J Med Biol Res [online]. 2001, vol.34, n.1, pp.121-124. ISSN 1414-431X.

Most studies suggest that serotonin exerts an inhibitory control on the aggression process. According to experimental evidence, this amine also influences growth and development of the nervous tissue including serotoninergic neurons. Thus, the possibility exists that increased serotonin availability in young animals facilitates a long-lasting effect on aggressive responses. The present study aimed to investigate the aggressive behavior of adult rats (90-120 days) treated from the 1st to the 19th postnatal day with citalopram (CIT), a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (20 mg/kg, sc, every 3 days). Aggressive behavior was induced by placing a pair of rats (matched by weight) in a box (20 x 20 x 20 cm), and submitting them to a 20-min session of electric footshocks (five 1.6-mA - 2-s current pulses, separated by a 4-min intershock interval). When compared to the control group (rats treated for the same period with equivalent volumes of saline solution), the CIT group presented a 41.4% reduction in the duration of aggressive response. The results indicate that the repeated administration of CIT early in life reduces the aggressive behavior in adulthood and suggest that the increased brain serotoninergic activity could play a role in this effect.

Keywords : aggression; serotonin; neonatal treatment; development.

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