Sexual experience affects reproductive behavior and preoptic androgen receptors in male mice.
Reproductive behavior in male rodents is made up of anticipatory and consummatory elements which are regulated in the brain by sensory systems, reward circuits and hormone signaling. Gonadal steroids play a key role in the regulation of male sexual behavior via steroid receptors in the hypothalamus and preoptic area. Typical patterns of male reproductive behavior have been characterized, however these are not fixed but are modulated by adult experience. We assessed the effects of repeated sexual experience on male reproductive behavior of C57BL/6 mice; including measures of olfactory investigation of females, mounting, intromission and ejaculation. The effects of sexual experience on the number of cells expressing either androgen receptor (AR) or estrogen receptor alpha (ERα) in the primary brain nuclei regulating male sexual behavior was also measured. Sexually experienced male mice engaged in less sniffing of females before initiating sexual behavior and exhibited shorter latencies to mount and intromit, increased frequency of intromission, and increased duration of intromission relative to mounting. No changes in numbers of ERα-positive cells were observed, however sexually experienced males had increased numbers of AR-positive cells in the medial preoptic area (MPOA); the primary regulatory nucleus for male sexual behavior. These results indicate that sexual experience results in a qualitative change in male reproductive behavior in mice that is associated with increased testosterone sensitivity in the MPOA and that this nucleus may play a key integrative role in mediating the effects of sexual experience on male behavior.
Behavioural Biology and Helmholtz Institute, Utrecht University, 3508 TB Utrecht, The Netherlands.
SourceHormones and behavior 61:4 2012 Apr pg 472-8
Estrogen Receptor alpha
Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
Mice, Inbred C57BL
Sexual Behavior, Animal
Pub Type(s)Journal Article
Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't