Role of Capsaicin-Sensitive Primary Afferent Nerves in the Neuroendocrine Copulation Reflex

  • H. H. Traurig
  • R. E. Papka
  • M. E. Rush
Conference paper


Maintenance of the luteal phase and progesterone (P4 ) secretion adequate to support nidation and pregnancy or pseudopregnancy in the proestrous rat requires intact innervation of the uterine cervix [1]. Stimulation of the cervix during copulation, or by experimental means, is conveyed via neural pathways to the hypothalamus [2,3] altering the gonadotropin secretion pattern [4,2] and facilitating the secretion of prolactin (Prl), a luteotropin in the rat, by the hypothalamo-hypophyseal axis [5,6,14]. This results in cessation of estrous cyclicity and stimulation of P4 secretion by the corpus luteum [7,4,5], thus completing the neuroendocrine copulation reflex (response) [8]. Our previous results have demonstrated an extensive innervation of the uterine cervix by capsaicin- sensitive primary afferent nerves containing markers for substance P [9], and further, that groups of capsaicintreated (CAP) neonatal rats subsequently have a markedly reduced incidence of pregnancy following confirmed matings [10]. This suggested that the neural limb of the neuroendocrine copulation reflex consisted of primary afferent “c” type nerves.


Corpus Luteum Estrous Cycle Uterine Cervix Primary Afferent Nerve Afferent Limb 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. H. Traurig
    • 1
  • R. E. Papka
    • 1
  • M. E. Rush
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnatomyUniversity of Kentucky Medical CenterLexingtonUSA

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