Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 88, Issue 2, pp 313–320 | Cite as

A role for 5-hydroxytryptamine in descending inhibition of spinal sexual reflexes

  • L. Marson
  • K. E. McKenna
Regular Papers


Neurons in the region of the rostral nucleus paragigantocellularis (nPGi) mediate the inhibition of spinal sexual reflexes. Anatomical and pharmacological evidence is presented supporting a role for 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) in this inhibition. Neurons in the rostral nPGi project to the ventral horn in the vicinity of the pudendal motoneurons. A significant number (78% ipsilateral) of these neurons contain 5-HT. Anterograde tracing with Phaseolus leucoagglutinin (PHA-L) confirmed the nPGi projection to pudendal motoneuron and interneuronal areas of the lumbar cord. 5-HT immunoreactive fibers and presumptive terminals surround the pudendal motoneurons. Urethral stimulation, in the anesthetized male rat, elicited penile erections, ejaculation and rhythmic contractions of the perineal muscles, we have used the term coitus reflex to describe this response. Intrathecal injection of 5-HT (4–50 µg) abolished the coitus reflex. Methysergide (1–10 mg/kg i.v.) prevented the 5-HT induced blockade of the coitus reflex. These data support the hypothesis that 5-HT is involved in the descending inhibition of spinal sexual reflexes.

Key words

Serotonin Ventral medulla Sexual reflexes 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. Marson
    • 1
  • K. E. McKenna
    • 1
  1. 1.Department PhysiologyNorthwestern University School of MedicineChicagoUSA

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