Mu-opioid Receptor (OPRM1) Variation, Oxytocin Levels and Maternal Attachment in Free-Ranging Rhesus Macaques Macaca mulatta

James Higham, Christina S. Barr, Christy L. Hoffman, Tara M. Mandalaywala, Karen J. Parker, Dario Maestripieri

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Understanding the genetic and neuroendocrine basis of the mother-infant bond is critical to understanding mammalian affiliation and attachment. Functionally similar nonsynonymous mu-opioid receptor (OPRM1) SNPs have arisen and been maintained in humans (A118G) and rhesus macaques Macaca mulatta (C77G). In rhesus macaques, variation in OPRM1 predicts individual differences in infant affiliation for mothers. Specifically, infants carrying the G allele show increased distress on separation from their mothers, and spend more time with them upon reunion, than individuals homozygous for the C allele. In humans, individuals possessing the G allele report higher perceptions of emotional pain on receiving rejection by social partners. We studied maternal behavior over the course of a year among free-ranging female rhesus macaques on Cayo Santiago, Puerto Rico. We then trapped females and collected blood samples from which we assessed OPRM1 genotype; we also collected cerebrospinal fluid samples from which we measured oxytocin (OT) levels. We show that females possessing the G allele restrain their infants more (i.e., prevent infants from separating from them by pulling them back) than females homozygous for the C allele. Females possessing the G allele also show higher OT levels when lactating, and lower OT levels when neither lactating nor pregnant, than females homozygous for the C allele. This is the first study to demonstrate an association between OPRM1 genotype and maternal attachment for infants, and is one of the first studies of any free-ranging primate population to link functional genetic variation to behavior via potentially related neuroendocrine mechanisms.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)131-136
    Number of pages6
    JournalBehavioral Neuroscience
    Volume125
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Apr 2011

    Fingerprint

    mu Opioid Receptor
    Oxytocin
    Macaca mulatta
    Alleles
    Mothers
    Reunion
    Genotype
    Social Distance
    Maternal Behavior
    Puerto Rico
    Pain Perception
    Individuality
    Primates
    Single Nucleotide Polymorphism
    Cerebrospinal Fluid
    Population

    Keywords

    • Attachment
    • Functional genetics
    • Mother-infant bond
    • Opioids
    • Oxytocin

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Behavioral Neuroscience

    Cite this

    Higham, J., Barr, C. S., Hoffman, C. L., Mandalaywala, T. M., Parker, K. J., & Maestripieri, D. (2011). Mu-opioid Receptor (OPRM1) Variation, Oxytocin Levels and Maternal Attachment in Free-Ranging Rhesus Macaques Macaca mulatta. Behavioral Neuroscience, 125(2), 131-136. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0022695

    Mu-opioid Receptor (OPRM1) Variation, Oxytocin Levels and Maternal Attachment in Free-Ranging Rhesus Macaques Macaca mulatta. / Higham, James; Barr, Christina S.; Hoffman, Christy L.; Mandalaywala, Tara M.; Parker, Karen J.; Maestripieri, Dario.

    In: Behavioral Neuroscience, Vol. 125, No. 2, 04.2011, p. 131-136.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Higham, J, Barr, CS, Hoffman, CL, Mandalaywala, TM, Parker, KJ & Maestripieri, D 2011, 'Mu-opioid Receptor (OPRM1) Variation, Oxytocin Levels and Maternal Attachment in Free-Ranging Rhesus Macaques Macaca mulatta', Behavioral Neuroscience, vol. 125, no. 2, pp. 131-136. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0022695
    Higham, James ; Barr, Christina S. ; Hoffman, Christy L. ; Mandalaywala, Tara M. ; Parker, Karen J. ; Maestripieri, Dario. / Mu-opioid Receptor (OPRM1) Variation, Oxytocin Levels and Maternal Attachment in Free-Ranging Rhesus Macaques Macaca mulatta. In: Behavioral Neuroscience. 2011 ; Vol. 125, No. 2. pp. 131-136.
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