Enhancement of Aggression Induced by Isolation Rearing is Associated with a Lack of Central Serotonin

Yiqiong Liu, Yunong Sun, Xiaoyan Zhao, Ji Young Kim, Lu Luo, Qian Wang, Xiaolu Meng, Yonghui Li, Nan Sui, Zhou Feng Chen, Chuxiong Pan, Liang Li, Yan Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Isolation rearing (IR) enhances aggressive behavior, and the central serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) system has been linked to IR-induced aggression. However, whether the alteration of central serotonin is the cause or consequence of enhanced aggression is still unknown. In the present study, using mice deficient in central serotonin Tph2−/− and Lmx1b−/−, we examined the association between central serotonin and aggression with or without social isolation. We demonstrated that central serotonergic neurons are critical for the enhanced aggression after IR. 5-HT depletion in wild-type mice increased aggression. On the other hand, application of 5-HT in Lmx1b−/− mice inhibited the enhancement of aggression under social isolation conditions. Dopamine was downregulated in Lmx1b−/− mice. Similar to 5-HT, L-DOPA decreased aggression in Lmx1b−/− mice. Our results link the serotoninergic system directly to aggression and this may have clinical implications for aggression-related human conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)841-852
Number of pages12
JournalNeuroscience Bulletin
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019


  • 5-HT
  • Aggression
  • Dopamine
  • Lmx1b
  • Social isolation


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