The influence of the main dopaminergic brain regions controlling copulation, the medial preoptic area (mPOA) and the nucleus accumbens (NAcc), on male rat sexual behavior expression has not been fully established.
This work analyzes the sexual effects of dopamine (DA) receptor activation in the mPOA or the NAcc of sexually active male rats, with an intact (sexually experienced) or a reduced (sexually exhausted) sexual motivation.
The non-specific DA receptor agonist apomorphine and the D2-like receptor agonist quinpirole were infused into the mPOA or the NAcc of sexually experienced or sexually exhausted male rats and their sexual behavior recorded.
DA receptor activation neither in the mPOA nor in the NAcc modified the copulatory behavior of sexually experienced male rats. DA receptor stimulation in the NAcc, but not in the mPOA, reversed the characteristic sexual inhibition of sexually satiated rats, and D2-like receptors were found to participate in this effect.
The optimal sexual performance of sexually experienced male rats cannot be further improved by DA receptor activation at either brain region. In sexually satiated rats, which are sexually inhibited and have a diminished sexual motivation, NAcc DA receptor stimulation appears to play a key role in their capacity to respond to a motivational significant stimulus, the receptive female, with the participation of D2-like receptors. Activation of DA receptors with the same drug, at the same dose and in the same brain region, produces different effects on copulatory behavior that depend on the animal’s sexual motivational state.
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Medial preoptic area
Ventral tegmental area
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The authors would like to thank Marisol Guerra for the artwork design. The experiments here reported complied with the regulations established in the Mexican official norm for the use and care of laboratory animals NOM-062-ZOO-1999.
This work was supported by Conacyt Mexico (grant 220772 to G. R-M). The data here reported are part of the PhD thesis of I.L.G-B, who received a fellowship (grant 161083 Conacyt).
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Electronic supplementary material
Brain sections showing cannulae placements of the sexually experienced (left column) and sexually satiated animals (right column) infused into the medial preoptic area (mPOA) with different doses of apomorphine. Cannulae tips were in sections corresponding to − 0.0 to − 1.32 mm relative to bregma (Paxinos and Watson 2009). Asterisks indicate cannulae placement of vehicle-treated sexually experienced rats and filled diamonds vehicle-treated sexually satiated rats. Filled circles, triangles, and squares indicate the different apomorphine doses infused (PDF 719 kb)
Brain sections showing cannulae placements of the sexually experienced (left column) and sexually satiated animals (right column) infused into the medial preoptic area (mPOA) with different doses of quinpirole. Cannulae tips were in sections corresponding to − 0.24 to − 1.32 mm relative to bregma (Paxinos and Watson 2009). Blank hexagons, circles, triangles, and squares indicate the different quinpirole doses infused (PDF 753 kb)
Brain sections showing cannulae placements of the sexually experienced (left column) and sexually satiated animals (right column) infused into the nucleus accumbens (NAcc) with different doses of apomorphine. Cannulae tips were in sections corresponding to 0.72 to 2.16 mm relative to bregma (Paxinos and Watson 2009). Asterisks indicate cannulae placement of vehicle-treated sexually experienced male rats and filled diamonds those of vehicle-treated sexually satiated rats. Filled circles, triangles, and squares indicate the different apomorphine doses infused (PDF 753 kb)
Brain sections showing cannulae placements of the sexually experienced (left column) and sexually satiated animals (right column) infused into the nucleus accumbens (NAcc) with different doses of quinpirole. Cannulae tips were in sections corresponding to 0.48 to 1.92 mm relative to bregma (Paxinos and Watson 2009). Blank circles, triangles, and squares indicate the different quinpirole doses infused (PDF 694 kb)
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Guadarrama-Bazante, I.L., Rodríguez-Manzo, G. Nucleus accumbens dopamine increases sexual motivation in sexually satiated male rats. Psychopharmacology 236, 1303–1312 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-018-5142-y
- Copulatory behavior
- Sexual satiety
- Sexual inhibition, sexual motivation, apomorphine
- D2-like receptors
- Mesolimbic system
- Medial preoptic area
- Nucleus accumbens