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Social modulation of brain monoamine levels in zebrafish
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Neuroscience, Physiology.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Neuroscience, Physiology.
2013 (English)In: Behavioural Brain Research, ISSN 0166-4328, E-ISSN 1872-7549, Vol. 253, 17-24 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In social species animals tend to adjust their social behaviour according to the available social information in the group, in order to optimize and improve their one social status. This changing environment requires for rapid and transient behavioural changes that relies primarily on biochemical switching of existing neural networks. Monoamines and neuropeptides are the two major candidates to mediate these changes in brain states underlying socially behavioural flexibility. In the current study we used zebrafish (Danio rerio) males to study the effects of acute social interactions on rapid regional changes in brain levels of monoamines (serotonin and dopamine). A behavioural paradigm under which male zebrafish consistently express fighting behaviour was used to investigate the effects of different social experiences: winning the interaction, losing the interaction, or fighting an unsolved interaction (mirror image). We found that serotonergic activity is significantly higher in the telencephalon of winners and in the optic tectum of losers, and no significant changes were observed in mirror fighters suggesting that serotonergic activity is differentially regulated in different brain regions by social interactions. Dopaminergic activity it was also significantly higher in the telencephalon of winners which may be representative of social reward. Together our data suggests that acute social interactions elicit rapid and differential changes in serotonergic and dopaminergic activity across different brain regions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 253, 17-24 p.
National Category
Behavioral Sciences Biology
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-205419DOI: 10.1016/j.bbr.2013.07.012ISI: 000324720500003PubMedID: 23850359OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-205419DiVA: diva2:641404
Available from: 2013-08-16 Created: 2013-08-16 Last updated: 2014-01-22Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Bully or Bullied?: The Zebrafish as a Model for Social Stress and Depression
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Bully or Bullied?: The Zebrafish as a Model for Social Stress and Depression
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The zebrafish is evaluated as a model for social stress, depression and anxiety. I conclude that it is suitable, especially for studies of sex differences. In humans, women are more prone to depression but most animal studies are performed in males. A popular way to study depression is by means of social stress, which is often a contributing factor to depression. However, social stress in female rodents is difficult to study since female aggression is mostly limited to maternal defence. Thus, there is a need for models to study depression and anxiety in females, as well as sex differences in these disorders.

As personality is a risk factor for developing depression, I aimed at exploring correlated behaviours that together characterise personalities. My work confirmed that zebrafish, as numerous other species, show strong correlations between boldness and aggression on the one hand, and neurobiological reactions to social stress on the other. In general, males were bolder than females, but there were no differences in aggressive behaviours between the sexes. It was also confirmed that both acute and chronic social stress activates the dopamine and serotonin systems in the brain, and that subordinate individuals appear to be more stressed, based on serotonergic activity.

Further, I studied the consequences of altered levels of serotonin during development, such as would be the case when antidepressants are used during pregnancy. Zebrafish embryos were treated with drugs that affect the serotonin system by increasing or decreasing serotonin levels. Depletion of serotonin increased the expression of several serotonin-related genes but had no effect on morphology. In contrast, increasing serotonin levels only showed small effects on gene expression, but increased the length of the myotomes in the spinal cord. Together with other studies, my results indicate that fluvoxamine might be a suitable choice for treatment of depression during pregnancy.

In conclusion, my results show that the zebrafish is a valid model organism for studying social stress, depression and anxiety disorders and it should therefore be considered when developing new animal models for depression. It will especially be beneficial in studies of sex differences.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2013. 66 p.
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Medicine, ISSN 1651-6206 ; 926
National Category
Research subject
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-205425 (URN)978-91-554-8725-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-10-02, B21, Biomedicinskt Centrum, Husargatan 3, Uppsala, 09:15 (English)
Available from: 2013-09-11 Created: 2013-08-16 Last updated: 2014-01-22

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