Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) has multiple roles in coordinating the behavioral and endocrine responses to a host of environmental challenges, including social stressors. In the present study we evaluated the role of CRH in mediating responses to a moderate social stressor in Wied's black tufted-eared marmosets (Callithrix kuhlii). Male and female marmosets (n = 14) were administered antalarmin (a selective CRH-1 receptor antagonist; 50μg/kg, p.o.) or vehicle in a blind, counterbalanced, crossover design. One hr after treatment, marmosets were separated from long-term pairmates and then housed alone in a novel enclosure for 7 hr. Behavior was recorded during separation and upon reunion with the partner, and urine samples for cortisol assay collected before, during, and after the intervention. Separation from partners elevated urinary cortisol concentrations over baseline for both conditions, but antalarmin treatment reduced the magnitude of the elevation. Antalarmin also lowered rates of behavioral patterns associated with arousal (alarm and "e-e" vocalizations, object manipulate/chew), but had no effect on contact calls, locomotory activity or alertness. Although most patterns of social behavior upon reunion with the partner were not affected by antalarmin, antalarmin-treated marmosets displayed more sexual behavior (mounts and copulations) upon reunion. These data indicate that antagonism of the CRH-1 receptor acts to reduce the magnitude of both endocrine and behavioral responses to a moderate social stressor without causing any overall reduction in alertness or general activity. This supports the hypothesis that CRH, acting through its type 1 receptor, is involved in coordinating the responses to anxiety-producing events. These results further suggest that the marmoset is a useful model for exploration of the role of CRH in mediating the behavioral and neuroendocrine responses to psychosocial stressors, particularly in the context of heterosexual social relationships.
- HPA axis
- Social stress
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Animal Science and Zoology