Adrenal steroids uniquely influence sexual motivation behavior in male rats

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Abstract

The androgenic adrenal steroids dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and 4α-androstenedione (4-A) have significant biological activity, but it is unclear if the behavioral effects are unique or only reflections of the effects of testosterone (TS). Gonadally intact male Long-Evans rats were assigned to groups to receive supplements of DHEA, 4-A, TS, corticosteroid (CORT), all at 400 µg steroid/kg of body weight, or vehicle only for 5 weeks. All males were tested in a paradigm for sexual motivation that measures time and urinary marks near an inaccessible receptive female. It was found that DHEA and 4-A supplements failed to influence time near the estrous female in the same way TS supplements did, and, indeed, 5 weeks of 4-A administration reduced the time similar to the suppressive effects of CORT after 3 weeks. Further, animals treated with DHEA or 4-A left fewer urinary marks near an estrous female than TS and control groups. These results suggest that DHEA and 4-A are not merely precursors of sex hormones, and provide support for these steroids influencing the brain and behavior in a unique fashion that is dissimilar from the effects of TS on male sexual behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-206
Number of pages12
JournalBehavioral Sciences
Volume2
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2012

Keywords

  • Androstenedione
  • Corticosteroids
  • DHEA
  • Mechanisms
  • Motivation

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