A model of social stress in dominant mice: Effects on sociosexual behaviour

F. R. D'Amato, R. Rizzi, A. Moles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The possibility of socially stressing the dominant/aggressive member of a pair of male mice is tested. Male mice (NMRI outbreed strain) were housed in pairs to assess dominant and subordinate roles by agonistic interactions and urine-marking test. Social stress for dominant males consisted in 30 min/day of exposure to their subordinate partner interacting with a female in the adjacent compartment of the cage, for 9 days. Results showed that dominance status was maintained. Behavioural observations indicated that neither the subordinates nor the dominant males habituated to this experimental procedure. At the end of the chronic stress, dominant animals were given the opportunity to interact for 30 min with a female in their compartment. Results indicated that stressed dominants showed impairment in their sexual behaviour and were more oriented towards the physical environment in comparison with control dominants. The behavioural response to apomorphine (0.25 mg/kg) indicated an alteration of the dopaminergic functioning in socially stressed dominant mice. This study suggests that the characteristics of the stressor and the effects of the chronic social stress could be different, according to male social status.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)421-426
Number of pages6
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Dominant male
  • Dopaminergic system
  • Mice
  • Sexual behaviour
  • Social stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Physiology (medical)

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