Document Detail

Sexual differentiation in prairie voles: the effects of corticosterone and testosterone.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  9383128     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster) exhibit low levels of physical sexual dimorphism and have endogenous basal corticosterone levels that are 5-10 times higher than those measured in rats; prairie voles also do not show a postnatal period of adrenal hyporesponsivity. On the basis of studies in rats suggesting that adrenal hyperactivity during the perinatal period could reduce masculinization or feminize sexual behavior, we hypothesized that adrenal hormones might influence sexual differentiation in prairie voles. We also examined the hypothesis that the effects of testosterone in prairie voles might differ from those reported in other rodents. Treatments with either corticosterone or testosterone propionate (TP) were given prenatally (gestational Days 12-20), via maternal injection, or postnatally (Days 1-6), by directly injecting the pups. Additional groups of males were castrated or sham-operated on postnatal Day 1, and a subgroup of castrated males received postnatal TP. Male and female sexual behavior was observed in adulthood following gonadectomy and hormone treatments. Corticosterone treatment was associated with high levels of mounting in both sexes and did not inhibit lordosis behavior in females. Postnatal TP treatment inhibited lordosis in females but did not facilitate mounting in either sex. Males that were castrated at birth showed unexpectedly high levels of mounting in response to adult androgens. The results of this study suggest that in prairie voles corticosterone is capable of masculinizing without defeminizing sexual behavior, whereas postnatal testicular secretions are not essential for, and may actually inhibit, masculinization in this species.
R L Roberts; A S Zullo; C S Carter
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.; Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Physiology & behavior     Volume:  62     ISSN:  0031-9384     ISO Abbreviation:  Physiol. Behav.     Publication Date:  1997 Dec 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  1997-12-30     Completed Date:  1997-12-30     Revised Date:  2007-11-14    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0151504     Medline TA:  Physiol Behav     Country:  UNITED STATES    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  1379-83     Citation Subset:  IM    
Department of Zoology, University of Maryland, College Park 20742, USA. RobertsL@LCE.NICHD.NIH.GOV
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MeSH Terms
Arvicolinae / physiology*
Corticosterone / pharmacology*
Posture / physiology
Sex Differentiation / drug effects*
Sexual Behavior, Animal / drug effects
Testosterone / pharmacology*
Grant Support
Reg. No./Substance:
50-22-6/Corticosterone; 58-22-0/Testosterone

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