DSP-4 treatment influences olfactory preferences of developing rats
Control cagemates of rats treated with the norepinephrine (NE) neurotoxin DSP-4, showed normal olfactory learning as infants, but abnormal aversion to home-cage odors as juveniles. Neither age nor social housing conditions influenced the odor preferences of DSP-4-treated rats: they showed tolerance or attraction to familiar odors at both developmental stages. Controls, but not DSP-4-treated juveniles, housed in mixed treatment groups, showed elevated concentrations of a serotonin metabolite and reduced NE concentrations in the hippocampus, suggesting that this social situation was particularly stressful for the controls. DSP-4-treated juveniles, but not infants, produced odors that were discriminable from controls'. Thus, conflicting olfactory signals in the home-cages of mixed juvenile groups may have led to the development of stress in controls. NE depletion appeared to lessen social stress effects in their DSP-4-treated cagemates. These findings support other data suggesting that NE modulates the biobehavioral effects of the social environment.