The present study examined the influence of prior social experience on the effects of chlordiazepoxide (CDP; 5.0, 10.0 and 20.0 mg/kg) on intrasexual aggression in male mice. Prior to drug testing, animals were either individually housed or screened in dyadic encounters in a neutral cage. This novel method yielded four experimental groups comprising animals with different social experiences and different aggressive/defensive characteristics: 1) individually-housed males (I): 2) aggressive males (A); 3) counter-attacking males (C), which actively responded to but did not initiate attack; and 4) defeated males (D). Twenty-four hours after screening, animals were treated with CDP and subjected to a resident-intruder test with untreated intruders. Results indicated that the lowest dose of CDP (5 mg/kg) increased aggressive behaviour but only in A males. At higher doses (10-20 mg/kg), CDP reduced attacks towards intruders in A, C and I, but not D, males. In A and C males, the antiaggressive action of CDP was associated with a prosocial effect (increased social investigation), whereas in I males, reduced aggression was associated with an increase in fear-related behaviours. As these differential effects of CDP on intermale aggression cannot be fully explained by differences in behavioural baselines, present data highlight the importance of experiential background as a powerful variable in determining behavioural responses to benzodiazepines. Present findings therefore suggest that an understanding of drug effects on social behaviour demands consideration of biological variability in phenotype.
Differential effects of chlorodiazepoxide on aggressive behavior in male mice: the influence of social factors / Pier Francesco Ferrari; Stefano Parmigiani; John R. Rodgers; Paola Palanza. - In: PSYCHOPHARMACOLOGY. - ISSN 0033-3158. - 134:258-265.(1998), pp. 258-265. [10.1007/s002130050448]