Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is in part due to a deficit in memory consolidation and extinction. Oxytocin (OXT) has anxiolytic effects and promotes prosocial behaviors in both rodents and humans, and evidence suggests that it plays a role in memory consolidation. We studied the effects of administered OXT and social co-housing in a rodent model of PTSD. Acute OXT yielded a short-term increase in the recall of the traumatic memory if administered immediately after trauma. Low doses of OXT delivered chronically had a cumulating anxiolytic effect that became apparent after 4 days and persisted. Repeated injections of OXT after short re-exposures to the trauma apparatus yielded a long-term reduction in anxiety. Co-housing with naive nonshocked animals decreased the memory of the traumatic context compared with single-housed animals. In the long term, these animals showed less thigmotaxis and increased interest in novel objects, and a low OXT plasma level. Co-housed PTSD animals showed an increase in risk-taking behavior. These results suggest beneficial effects of OXT if administered chronically through increases in memory consolidation after re-exposure to a safe trauma context. We also show differences between the benefits of social co-housing with naive rats and co-housing with other shocked animals on trauma-induced long-term anxiety.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health