D2-Like Dopamine Receptor Mediation of Social-Emotional Reactivity in a Mouse Model of Anxiety: Strain and Experience Effects


We examined the effects of the D2-like dopamine receptor agonist quinpirole on social-emotional reactivity in two inbred mouse strains. An important objective of this study was to determine whether these effects could be modulated by differential housing conditions (i.e., isolation versus group housing). Moreover, as motor activity is an important control for the assessment of drug effects on emotional behavior, the effects of quinpirole were tested in two inbred mouse strains (A/J and C57BL/6J) low and high in motor activity, respectively. Levels of emotional reactivity were assessed in response to mild social stimulation provided by a nonaggressive conspecific. Quinpirole increased stationary forms of reactivity (i.e., startle, kicking, defensive posture, vocalization) in both isolated and group-housed A/J mice. This effect was more pronounced and observed at lower doses in isolated than in group-housed A/J mice. Quinpirole also induced jump behavior in isolated but not group-housed A/J mice. The shift to the left in the dose-response curve of quinpirole in isolated A/J mice indicated that D2-like dopamine receptor functions can be altered by social experience. Quinpirole only marginally increased stationary and locomotor reactivity (i.e., jump) in isolated C57BL/6J mice, whereas it markedly reduced motor activity in group-housed mice of this strain. The investigation of emotional reactivity within a social context and using strains that differ in motor activity permitted the effects of drugs on emotional reactivity to be dissociated from the effects on motor activity. Given that social-emotional reactivity was elicited by what typically should have been mild and nonthreatening stimuli, this model may be highly relevant to understanding the neurobiology of anxiety. Finally, these data support an important role for dopamine in the mediation of social-emotional reactivity. © 1998 American College of Neuropsychopharmacology

Author information

Correspondence to Paul L Gendreau Ph.D.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Gendreau, P., Petitto, J., Gariépy, J. et al. D2-Like Dopamine Receptor Mediation of Social-Emotional Reactivity in a Mouse Model of Anxiety: Strain and Experience Effects. Neuropsychopharmacol 18, 210–221 (1998). https://doi.org/10.1016/S0893-133X(97)00131-0

Download citation


  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Isolation housing
  • D2 dopamine receptors
  • Inbred mouse strains

Further reading