, Volume 213, Issue 1, pp 69-79
Date: 17 Sep 2010

Effect of the adenosine A2A receptor antagonist MSX-3 on motivational disruptions of maternal behavior induced by dopamine antagonism in the early postpartum rat

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Mesolimbic dopamine (DA), particularly in the nucleus accumbens, importantly regulates activational aspects of maternal responsiveness. DA antagonism and accumbens DA depletions interfere with early postpartum maternal motivation by selectively affecting most forms of active maternal behaviors, while leaving nursing behavior relatively intact. Considerable evidence indicates that there is a functional interaction between DA D2 and adenosine A2A receptors in striatal areas, including the nucleus accumbens.


This study was conducted to determine if adenosine A2A receptor antagonism could reverse the effects of DA receptor antagonism on early postpartum maternal behavior.


The adenosine A2A receptor antagonist MSX-3 (0.25–2.0 mg/kg, IP) was investigated for its ability to reverse the effects of the DA D2 receptor antagonist haloperidol (0.1 mg/kg, IP) on the maternal behavior of early postpartum female rats.


Haloperidol severely impaired the expression of active maternal components, including retrieval and grouping the pups at the nest site, pup licking, and nest building. Co-administration of MSX-3 (0.25–2.0 mg/kg, IP) with haloperidol produced a dose-related attenuation of the haloperidol-induced behavioral deficits in early postpartum females. Doses of MSX-3 that effectively reversed the effects of haloperidol (0.5, 1.0 mg/kg), when administered in the absence of haloperidol, did not affect maternal responding or locomotor activity.


Adenosine and DA systems interact to regulate early postpartum maternal responsiveness. This research may potentially contribute to the development of strategies for treatments of psychiatric disorders during the postpartum period, with particular emphasis in maintaining or restoring the mother–infant relationship.