Elimination of aggressive behavior in male mice lacking endothelial nitric oxide synthase.

G. E. Demas, L. J. Kriegsfeld, S. Blackshaw, P. Huang, S. C. Gammie, R. J. Nelson, S. H. Snyder

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93 Scopus citations


Male mice with targeted deletion of the gene encoding the neuronal isoform of nitric oxide synthase (nNOS(-/-)) display increased aggressive behavior compared with wild-type (WT) mice. Specific pharmacological inhibition of nNOS with 7-nitroindazole also augments aggressive behavior. We report here that male mice with targeted deletion of the gene encoding endothelial NOS (eNOS(-/-)) display dramatic reductions in aggression. The effects are selective, because an extensive battery of behavioral tests reveals no other deficits. In the resident-intruder model of aggression, resident eNOS(-/-) males show virtually no aggression. Latency for aggression onset is 25-30 times longer in eNOS(-/-) males compared with WT males in the rare instances of aggressive behaviors. Similarly, a striking lack of aggression is noted in tests of aggression among groups of four mice monitored in neutral cages. Although eNOS(-/-) mice are hypertensive ( approximately 14 mmHg blood pressure elevation), hypertension does not appear responsible for the diminished aggression. Reduction of hypertension with hydralazine does not change the prevalence of aggression in eNOS(-/-) mice. Extensive examination of brains from eNOS(-/-) male mice reveals no obvious neural damage from chronic hypertension. In situ hybridization in WT animals reveals eNOS mRNA in the brain associated exclusively with blood vessels and no neuronal localizations. Accordingly, vascular eNOS in the brain appears capable of influencing behavior with considerable selectivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)RC30
JournalThe Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 1 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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