Background/Aims: Allopregnanolone or 3α-hydroxy-5α-pregnan-20-one (AlloP) is normally sedative and anxiolytic, but can under provoking circumstances paradoxically induce aggressive behavior. Therefore, it is of particular interest to determine if there is a relationship between an anxiolytic effect and aggressive behavior following AlloP administration. Method: Male Wistar rats were housed in triads comprising of 1 young rat (35 days) and 2 older rats (55 days), with the intent of producing a social hierarchy. The triads were sampled for total serum testosterone and submitted to a social challenge in the form of a food competition test (FCT), where the rats competed for access to drinking sweetened milk. At baseline, the younger rats were identified as subordinates. To test for the behavioral effect of AlloP, the subordinate rats were given intravenous AlloP injections of 0.5 and 1 mg/kg. To assess the optimal AlloP effect, 6 intervals (5, 10, 15, 20, 30 and 40 min) between injection and the FCT were used. In separate studies, AlloP was also given by subcutaneous and intraperitoneal administration at 10 and 17 mg/kg. Results: AlloP (1 mg/kg, i.v.) increased drinking time and aggressive behavior in subordinate rats, with a positive correlation between these behaviors. The subcutaneous injection (17 mg/kg) also increased drinking time in subordinate animals. Serum testosterone concentration was higher in dominant compared to subordinate rats, and correlated with drinking time and weight. Conclusions: AlloP increased drinking time and aggressive behavior, and the correlation indicates a relationship between an anxiolytic effect and aggressive behavior.

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