Brain serotonin dysfunction accounts for aggression in male mice lacking neuronal nitric oxide synthase

Silvana Chiavegatto, Valina L. Dawson, Laura A. Mamounas, Vassilis E. Koliatsos, Ted M. Dawson, Randy J. Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Genetically engineered mice with targeted disruption of the neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) gene established the inhibitory role of nitric oxide (NO) in male impulsive aggressive behavior. This was later confirmed by using selective nNOS inhibitors in male wild-type mice. The molecular mechanisms accounting for the aggressive behavior caused by the lack of neuronally derived NO is not known. Recent studies suggest that central serotonergic neuronal circuits and particularly 5-HT1A and 5-HT1B receptors play a prominent role in the regulation of aggression. Accordingly, we investigated whether the aggressiveness caused by the lack of nNOS might be because of alterations in serotonergic function. We now demonstrate that the excessive aggressiveness and impulsiveness of nNOS knockout mice is caused by selective decrements in serotonin (5-HT) turnover and deficient 5-HT1A and 5-HT1B receptor function in brain regions regulating emotion. These results indicate an important role for NO in normal brain 5-HT function and may have significant implications for the treatment of psychiatric disorders characterized by aggressiveness and impulsivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1277-1281
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume98
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 30 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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