Thesis Defense Announcement

The College of Arts and Sciences announces the Final Thesis of

Mary Estes

for the Degree of Master of Science

October 18, 2018 at 3:30 PM in Psychology Building, Room 242

Advisor: Deranda B Lester

Systemic Oxytocin Administration Alters Mesolimbic Dopamine Release

ABSTRACT: Growing research indicates oxytocin may be involved in relieving anxiety and attenuating the rewarding effects of psychostimulants. The present study investigated the effects of subchronic oxytocin treatments on mesolimbic dopamine transmission in areas associated with anxiety (amygdala) and addiction (nucleus accumbens, NAc). Using in vivo fixed potential amperometry in anesthetized mice, stimulation-evoked dopamine release was recorded either in the amygdala or NAc in pretreated mice (4 i.p. injections of oxytocin or saline with 48 h between injections). During dopamine recordings, mice received an i.p. drug challenge of either oxytocin , nomifensine, or saline. In the amygdala, oxytocin pretreated mice displayed a decreased percent change in dopamine release following the oxytocin challenge relative to the saline pretreated mice. In the NAc, subchronic oxytocin pretreated mice displayed an attenuated baseline dopamine release and a reduced dopaminergic response to the drug challenge of nomifensine. Together these results provide neurochemical support for previous studies suggesting oxytocin may be useful at treating aspects of anxiety and drug abuse. The present study adds to our understanding of the neural effects of oxytocin, which is critical given the potential therapeutic uses for this drug.