Two subtypes of estrogen receptors (ER), ERα and ERβ, have been identified in humans and numerous vertebrates, including the Japanese quail. We investigated in this species the specific role(s) of each receptor in the activation of male sexual behavior and the underlying estrogen-dependent neural plasticity. Castrated male Japanese quail received empty (CX) or testosterone-filled (T) implants or were daily injected with the ER general agonist diethylstilbestrol (DES), the ERα-specific agonist PPT, the ERβ-specific agonist DPN or the vehicle, propylene glycol. Three days after receiving the first treatment, subjects were alternatively tested for appetitive (rhythmic cloacal sphincter movements, RCSM) and consummatory aspects (copulatory behavior) of male sexual behavior. 24 hours after the last behavioral testing, brains were collected and analyzed for aromatase expression and vasotocinergic innervation in the medial preoptic nucleus. The expression of RCSM was activated by T and to a lesser extent by DES and PPT but not by the ERβagonist DPN. In parallel, T fully restored the complete sequence of copulation, DES was partially active and the specific activation of ERα or ERβ only resulted in a very low frequency of mount attempts in few subjects. T increased the volume of the medial preoptic nucleus as measured by the dense cluster of aromatase-immunoreactive cells and the density of the vasotocinergic innervation within this nucleus. DES had only a weak action on vasotocinergic fibers and the two specific ER agonists did not affect these neural responses. Simultaneous activation of both receptors or treatments with higher doses may be required to fully activate sexual behavior and the associated neurochemical events.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)