Modification of sexual behavior of Long-Evans male rats by drugs acting on the 5-HT1A receptor

Brain Res. 1999 Mar 13;821(2):414-25. doi: 10.1016/s0006-8993(98)01129-9.


Modulation of the sexual behavior of male rats by the anxiolytic buspirone (S-20499) and its analog gepirone were compared to the effects of 8-OH-DPAT (or DPAT, a selective 5-HT1A reference agonist), and BMY-7378 (a selective 5-HT1A partial agonist). Long-Evans rats were used; modulation of copulatory behavior and alteration of penile reflexes were examined. Modulation of copulatory behavior was assessed by three indices: frequency and length of intromission, and latency of ejaculation. DPAT, at doses of 1-8 mg/kg, reduced these three indices in a time dependent manner such that the effects peaked at 45 min and normalized at 90 min. The dose-effect relationship (assessed 45 min after DPAT injection) is bell-shaped with an ED50 approximately 1 mg/kg on the ascending limb of the curve. The effects of buspirone (2 mg/kg) and gepirone (2 mg/kg) on copulatory behavior were indistinguishable from control. BMY-7378 alone and in combination with these other 5-HT1A agonists reduced copulatory behavior, though not statistically significant. Penile reflexes, including number of erections, cups and flips, were inhibited by these agents: DPAT>buspirone>gepirone (inactive at 2 mg/kg). Furthermore, the latency period to erection was at least doubled by DPAT (2 mg/kg). Buspirone and gepirone, however, reduced the latency period to erection. BMY-7378 inhibited penile reflexes when administered alone and even more in combination with DPAT or buspirone. Two butyrophenone analogs, spiperone (a 5-HT1A and dopamine D2 antagonist) and haloperidol (a D2 antagonist), were also tested for their interaction with DPAT. Both of these drugs (at 0.25 mg/kg, 60 min after administration) reduced all indices of penile reflexes and copulation. Furthermore, in combination with DPAT (2 mg/kg, 45 min), the effects were synergistic such that sexual activity came nearly to a standstill. These opposing effects on putatively brain originated copulatory behavior and spinal mediated penile reflexes indicate that the effects of buspirone and DPAT on sexual behavior in the male rat may be possible at different parts of the central nervous system. If a tentative shared target site by DPAT and buspirone is the 5-HT1A receptor, than the same 5-HT receptor sub-type at different locations (brain, raphe nuclei, spinal cord and autonomic ganglia) may modulate rat sexual behavior in opposing ways.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • 8-Hydroxy-2-(di-n-propylamino)tetralin / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Brain Chemistry / drug effects
  • Buspirone / pharmacology*
  • Copulation / drug effects*
  • Dopamine Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Haloperidol / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Penile Erection / drug effects
  • Penile Erection / physiology
  • Penis / innervation
  • Penis / physiology
  • Piperazines / pharmacology
  • Pyrimidines / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / physiology
  • Receptors, Serotonin / physiology*
  • Receptors, Serotonin, 5-HT1
  • Reflex / drug effects
  • Serotonin / physiology
  • Serotonin Receptor Agonists / pharmacology*
  • Spiperone / pharmacology


  • Dopamine Antagonists
  • Piperazines
  • Pyrimidines
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2
  • Receptors, Serotonin
  • Receptors, Serotonin, 5-HT1
  • Serotonin Receptor Agonists
  • Serotonin
  • Spiperone
  • 8-Hydroxy-2-(di-n-propylamino)tetralin
  • Haloperidol
  • gepirone
  • BMY 7378
  • Buspirone