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Compositional variation in early life parenting structures alters oxytocin and vasopressin 1a receptor development in prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster)


Rogers, Forrest et al. (2021), Compositional variation in early life parenting structures alters oxytocin and vasopressin 1a receptor development in prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster), Dryad, Dataset,


Paternal absence can significantly alter bio-behavioral development in many biparental species. This effect has generally been demonstrated by comparing the development of offspring reared under biparental care with those reared after removal of the father. However, studies employing this design conflate two significant modifications to early life experience: removal of father-specific qualities and the general reduction of offspring-directed care. In the socially monogamous prairie vole (Microtus ochrogaster), the experience of paternal absence without substitution during development inhibits partner preference formation in adulthood, a hallmark of social monogamy, in females and males. Employing alloparents as substitutes for fathers, our previous work demonstrated that paternal absence affects pair-bond formation in female offspring via reduced quantity of care; but it affects pair-bond formation in male offspring by means of a missing paternal quality (or qualities).  Here, we present evidence that paternal absence (with and without alloparental substitution) may alter the ontogeny of neural oxytocin receptor (OXTR) and/or vasopressin 1a receptor (AVPR1a) distribution in male and female prairie voles.  Compared to biparentally reared controls (BPC), male offspring reared in mother only (MON) and maternal-plus-alloparental (MPA) conditions show lower densities of OXTR in the central amygdala; and MPA males show lower densities of OXTR in the caudate putamen and nucleus accumbens. Early life experience was not associated with differences in AVPR1a density in males. However, MON and MPA females show greater densities of AVPR1a in the medial amygdala than BPC; and MPA females show greater densities of AVPR1a in the ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus. We also demonstrate with baseline corticosterone concentrations that MON and MPA offspring are not differentially susceptible to social isolation than BPC offspring. Together, these findings suggest that paternal absence, while likely not a salient early life stressor, has neuroendocrine consequences for offspring, some of which may affect partner preference formation.


This dataset is composed of a series of data files, delineated by biological sex, brain region, and assay (corticosterone concentration, oxytocin receptor autoradiography, or arginine vasopressin receptor 1a autoradiography).  Files containing corticosterone data contain a set of predictors (i.e., id, tube id, family id, biological sex, developmental conditions, late life contitions) and corticosterone concentration as an outcome (pg/mL). Files associated with autoradiography data contain a standard set of predictors / identifiying information (i.e. id, litter, treatment, sex) and the outcome measure (optical binding density in dpg/mg). Post-hoc correlation data sets contain autoradiographic data outcomes as well as behavioral outcomes associated with individuals. All subjects were recruited from a colony of laboratory-bred prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster) at the University of California, Davis, USA. The prairie vole colony was derived via systematic outbreeding of a wild stock captured near Champaign, Illinois, USA. Outliers were identified visually with boxplots in R and confirmed as values a distance of 1.5 times the inter-quartile range above the 3rd quartile and/or below the 1st quartile (i.e., Q1 – 1.5×IQR and/or Q3 + 1.5×IQR). Data files with the text "outlierremoved" or "orm" have already had outliers removed.

Usage Notes

This data is archived to meet expectations for the purpose of peer review and publishing at the Journal of Neuroendocrinology. This data was used for the formation and publication of the manuscript now published at the Journal of Neuroendocrinology entitled, "Compositional variation in early-life parenting structures alters oxytocin and vasopressin 1a receptor development in prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster)" (DOI: 10.1111/jne.13001). As a courtesy to the authors (Forrest Rogers, Freeman, Anderson, Palumbo, and Karen Bales), we would respectfully request to be notified before this data is used for the purpose of any future research, publication, etc, and that the data and literature be cited appropriately in accordance with ethical reserach standards.


Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Award: HD071998

National Institutes of Health, Award: NIH-HD071998

National Institute of Mental Health, Award: 5T32MH020006-20