Social status differentiates rapid neuroendocrine responses to restraint stress

Travis J. Ling, Gina L. Forster, Michael J. Watt, Wayne J. Korzan, Kenneth J. Renner, Cliff H. Summers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Male Anolis carolinensis that win aggressive interactions mobilize neuroendocrine responses to social stress more rapidly than defeated lizards. We initially examined temporal patterns of neuroendocrine response to restraint stress in lizards of unknown status, and then investigated whether winning males respond more rapidly to this non-social stressor. Size-matched male pairs interacted to establish social status, and then were returned to individual home cages for 3 days. Plasma and brains were collected from non-restrained dominants and subordinates, and from a non-interacting control group. Additional groups of dominants and subordinates underwent 90 s restraint stress, with plasma and brains collected either immediately or 300 s after restraint. In lizards of unknown social status restraint stimulated rapid monoaminergic responses in nucleus accumbens, hippocampus, amygdala, and locus ceruleus, with delayed responses seen in VTA and raphé. Non-restrained dominants and subordinates had lower levels of raphé serotonergic activity and lower hippocampal dopaminergic activity 3 days after interacting, compared to controls. Dominants had higher corticosterone levels, both immediately and 300 s after restraint, than either non-restrained dominants or restrained subordinates. Restraint induced higher raphé serotonergic activity in dominants. However, subordinates also showed rapid responses to restraint; exhibiting lower hippocampal dopamine (DA) levels than non-restrained subordinates. At 300 s after the stress, amygdalar serotonin levels increased in dominants, while subordinates showed higher amygdalar DA levels. These results suggest that stressful aggressive interactions will not only alter basal neurochemical activity, but also influence neuroendocrine responses to non-social stressors according to individual social status.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)218-232
Number of pages15
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 16 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Amygdala
  • Anolis carolinensis
  • Corticosterone
  • Dopamine
  • Lizard
  • Raphé
  • Restraint
  • Serotonin
  • Social status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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