The quality of social relationships is a powerful determinant of lifetime health. Here, we explored the impact of social experiences on circulating oxytocin (OT) concentration, telomere length (TL) and novelty-seeking behaviour in male and female rats. Prolonged social housing raised circulating OT levels in both sexes while elongating TL only in females. Novelty-seeking behaviour in females was more responsive to social housing and increased OT levels than males. The OT antagonist (OT ANT) L-366,509 blocked the benefits of social housing in all conditions along with female-specific TL erosion and novelty-seeking deficit. Thus, females seem more susceptible than males to genetic and behavioural changes when the secretion of endogenous OT in response to social life is interrupted. Social enrichment may therefore provide a therapeutic avenue to promote stress resiliency and chances of healthy aging across generations.
All data generated or analysed during this study are included in the manuscript and supporting files. Source data files have been provided for all Figures.
- Gerlinde AS Metz
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Animal experimentation: All procedures in this study were carried out in accordance with the National Institute of Health Guide to the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, and were approved by the institutional animal care committee (Protocol No. 004674BGH; Avicenna Institute of Neuroscience-AINS).
- Peggy Mason, University of Chicago, United States
© 2018, Faraji et al.
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