Interactions between aromatase (estrogen synthase) and dopamine in the control of male sexual behavior in quail

Jacques Balthazart, Michelle Baillien, Gregory F. Ball

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In male quail, like in other vertebrates including rodents, testosterone acting especially through its estrogenic metabolites is necessary for the activation of male sexual behavior. Also, the administration of dopamine agonists and antagonists profoundly influences male sexual behavior. How the steroid-sensitive neural network and dopamine interact physiologically, remains largely unknown. It is often implicitly assumed that testosterone or its metabolite estradiol, stimulates male sexual behavior via the modification of dopaminergic transmission. We have now identified in quail two possible ways in which dopamine could potentially affect sexual behavior by modulating the aromatization of testosterone into an estrogen. One is a long-acting mechanism that presumably involves the modification of dopaminergic transmission followed by the alteration of the genomic expression of aromatase. The other is a more rapid mechanism that does not appear to be dopamine receptor-mediated and may involve a direct interaction of dopamine with aromatase (possibly via substrate competition). We review here the experimental data supporting the existence of these controls of aromatase activity by dopamine and discuss the possible contribution of these controls to the activation of male sexual behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-55
Number of pages19
JournalComparative Biochemistry and Physiology - B Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002


  • Appetitive sexual behavior
  • Aromatase
  • Consummatory sexual behavior
  • Copulatory behavior
  • Dopamine
  • Japanese quail
  • Preoptic area
  • Steroid-neurotransmitter interaction
  • Testosterone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Molecular Biology


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