The neuroendocrinology of reproductive behavior in Japanese quail

J. Balthazart, M. Baillien, T. D. Charlier, C. A. Cornil, G. F. Ball

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Sex steroid hormones such as testosterone have widespread effects on brain physiology and function but one of their best characterized effects arguably involves the activation of male sexual behavior. During the past 20 years we have investigated the testosterone control of male sexual behavior in an avian species, the Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica). We briefly review here the main features and advantages of this species relating to the investigation of fundamental questions in the field of behavioral neuroendocrinology, a field that studies inter-relationship among hormones, brain and behavior. Special attention is given to the intracellular metabolism of testosterone, in particular its aromatization into an estrogen, which plays a critical limiting role in the mediation of the behavioral effects of testosterone. Brain aromatase activity is controlled by steroids which increase the transcription of the enzyme, but afferent inputs that affect the intraneuronal concentrations of calcium also appear to have a pronounced effect on the enzyme activity through rapid changes in its phosphorylation status. The physiological significance of these slow genomic and rapid, presumably non-genomic, changes in brain aromatase activity are also briefly discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-82
Number of pages14
JournalDomestic Animal Endocrinology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Behavior
  • Brain
  • Japanese quail
  • Reproduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Animals
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Endocrinology


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