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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Dopamine agonist treatment before and after the birth reduces prolactin concentration but does not impair paternal responsiveness in Djungarian hamsters, Phodopus campbelli.

Male Djungarian hamsters, Phodopus campbelli, are highly parental and experience a late-afternoon prolactin surge before the birth that is not seen in a closely related species, P. sungorus, which lacks paternal care. At the same stage, female prolactin is needed for later maternal behavior. Male prolactin was suppressed in first-time fathers before the birth of the litter using two different dopamine agonists, bromocriptine mesylate and cabergoline. Plasma prolactin concentration confirmed the efficacy of each treatment. Paternal responsiveness was quantified using three variations on a pup-displacement paradigm. No adverse effects of either treatment were seen. Across four experiments, there was no decrease in paternal retrieval or in retrieval latency in response to male prolactin suppression. In addition, there was no decrease in litter growth or survival, nor was there an increase in maternal investment to compensate for a deficit in paternal care. As cabergoline suppression of prolactin persisted after the birth without behavioral deficits, prolactin after the birth was also not required for the expression of paternal behavior. In spite of an extensive literature supporting an association between prolactin and natural paternal behavior, we conclude that dopamine-mediated prolactin release into peripheral plasma is not essential for paternal responsiveness in P. campbelli.[1]


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