Further Evidence for the Role of Nitric Oxide in Maternal Aggression: Effects of L-NAME on Maternal Aggression towards Female Intruders in Wistar Rats

Ankarali S., Ankarali H., Marangoz C.

PHYSIOLOGICAL RESEARCH, vol.58, no.4, pp.591-598, 2009 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 58 Issue: 4
  • Publication Date: 2009
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded, Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.591-598


It has been shown that nitric oxide (NO) increases aggression in male mice, whereas it decreases aggression in lactating female mice and prairie voles. It is also known that aggression can be exhibited at different levels in rodent species, strain or subtypes. The aims of this study were to investigate the proportion of aggressiveness in Wistar rats, the effect of intraperitoneally administered nonspecific nitric oxide synthase (NOS) inhibitor L-NAME (N-G-nitro L-arginine methyl ester) on maternal aggression towards female intruders, and whether these effects are due to NO production or not. Rats were given saline intraperitoneally on the postpartum Day 2 and aggression levels were recorded. The same rats were given 60 mg/kg L-NAME or D-NAME (N-G-nitro D-arginine methyl ester) on the postpartum Day 3 and their effects on aggression levels were compared to saline. While L-NAME administration did not cause any differences in the total number of aggressive behavior, aggression duration and aggression intensity, it reduced the proportion of animals showing aggressive behavior. In addition, the latency of the first aggression was significantly increased by L-NAME. In the D-NAME group, however, no significant change was found. Our results have shown that L-NAME reduces maternal aggression towards female intruders in Wistar rats through inhibition of NO production. These results suggest that the role of NO in offensive and defensive maternal aggression shares neural mechanisms.