Blockade of serotonin 5-HT 2A receptors potentiates dopamine D 2 activation-induced disruption of pup retrieval on an elevated plus maze, but has no effect on D 2 blockade-induced one

Lina Nie, Tianqi Di, Yu Li, Peng Cheng, Ming Li, Jun Gao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Appetitive aspect of rat maternal behavior, such as pup retrieval, is motivationally driven and sensitive to dopamine disturbances. Activation or blockade of dopamine D 2 receptors causes a similar disruption of pup retrieval, which may also reflect an increase in maternal anxiety and/or a disruption of executive function. Recent work indicates that serotonin 5-HT 2A receptors also play an important role in rat maternal behavior. Given the well-known modulation of 5-HT 2A on the mesolimbic and mesocortical dopamine functions, the present study examined the extent to which blockade of 5-HT 2A receptors on dopamine D 2 -mediated maternal effects using a pup retrieval on the elevated plus maze (EPM) test. Sprague-Dawley postpartum female rats were acutely injected with quinpirole (a D 2 agonist, 0.10 and 0.25 mg/kg, sc), or haloperidol (a D 2 antagonist, 0.1 or 0.2 mg/kg, sc), in combination of MDL100907 (a 5-HT 2A receptor antagonist, 1.0 mg/kg, sc, 30 min before quinpirole or haloperidol injection) or saline and tested at 30, 90 and 240 min after quinpirole or haloperidol injection on postpartum days 3 and 7. Quinpirole and haloperidol decreased the number of pup retrieved (an index of maternal motivation) and sequential retrieval score (an index of executive function), prolonged the pup retrieval latencies, reduced the percentage of time spent on the open arms (an index of maternal anxiety), and decreased the distance travelled on the maze in a dose-dependent and time-dependent fashion. MDL100907 treatment by itself had no effect on pup retrieval, but it exacerbated the quinpirole-induced disruption of pup retrieval, but had no effect on the haloperidol-induced one. These findings suggest a complex interactive effect between 5-HT 2A and D 2 receptors on one or several maternal processes (maternal motivation, anxiety and executive function), and support the idea that one molecular mechanism by which 5-HT 2A receptors mediate maternal behavior is through its modulation of D 2 receptors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)74-84
Number of pages11
JournalPharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior
StatePublished - Aug 2018


  • Dopamine D
  • Haloperidol
  • MDL100907
  • Maternal behavior
  • Quinpirole
  • Serotonin 5-HT

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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