Postnatal pup brain dopamine depletion inhibits maternal behavior

Aaron S. Wilkins, Mary Logan, Priscilla Kehoe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The interactions between dams and their pups and among siblings were investigated in litters with (a) all pups depleted of striatal dopamine by 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA on PND3), (b) all pups treated with vehicle, or (c) half of the pups depleted of dopamine and the other half treated with vehicle. On PND10, two sets of four pups from each litter were videotaped in a novel environment with the dam; pup and maternal behaviors were later scored by blind observers. We observed a 70% decrease in striatal dopamine in 6-OHDA-treated pups but found no effect of treatment on pup weight gain. Dams with some or all DA-depleted pups (a) were slower to retrieve a pup and establish a nest, (b) retrieved pups less frequently, and (c) spent less time huddling with pups than dams with only vehicle-treatcd pups. When compared with DA-depleted pups in homogeneous litters, DA-depleted pups in mixed litters were less hyperactive and spent more time huddling with other pups than in isolation. These results suggest that DA-depleted pups receive compromised maternal care but can benefit from interactions with normal siblings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)867-873
Number of pages7
JournalPharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • 6-Hydroxydopamine
  • Dopamine
  • HPLC
  • Licking
  • Maternal behavior
  • Pup growth
  • Retrieval behavior
  • Sprague-Dawley rats
  • Ultrasonic vocalization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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