Female mouse tears contain an anti-aggression pheromone

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Female mouse tears contain an anti-aggression pheromone

Fishman comments: Super interesting article on the effects of female mouse tear fluid on male behavior. The authors found that female tears contain a factor that strongly inhibits inter-male aggression.

Cavaliere, R.M., Silvotti, L., Percudani, R. et al. Female mouse tears contain an anti-aggression pheromone. Sci Rep 10, 2510 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-59293-9

Tears contain pheromones that trigger specific behavioral responses. In the mouse, male tear fluid is involved in long and short-term effects such as the receptive behavior and pregnancy block in females and the aggression in males. In contrast, pup tears exert an inhibitory effect on male mating behavior, also promoting sexual rejection in females. In the rat, a male lacrimal protein acts as an intraspecific and heterospecific signal enhancing sexual behavior in females and evoking avoidance behavior in mouse. However, behavioral effects of female tears on male behavior have yet to be described. Here, we report that female lacrimal fluid of different mouse strains contains a relatively small and involatile factor that abolishes inter-male aggression switching it into a copulatory behavior. The production of this molecule by the lacrimal glands is not affected by the estrous cycle but it is sensitive to ovariectomy, thus suggesting a control mediated by hormones. Moreover, this lacrimal anti-aggression pheromone modulates the activity of the lateral habenula, a brain area responsible for the valence of the aggressive interactions.

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