Opposite influence of medial preoptic D1 and D2 receptors on genital reflexes: implications for copulation

Life Sci. 1992;51(22):1705-13. doi: 10.1016/0024-3205(92)90299-5.


Dopamine D1 and D2 receptors may synergize with or oppose each other's effects. We suggest that stimulation of D1 and D2 receptors in the medial preoptic area (MPOA) of male rats have opposing effects on genital reflexes. In Experiment 1 a D1 agonist injected into the MPOA increased the number of ex copula erections but decreased the number of seminal emissions. In Experiment 2 a D1 antagonist had the opposite effects (decreased erections and increased seminal emissions), as had a D2 agonist previously. We also suggest that D1 and D2 mechanisms in the MPOA have different thresholds of activation. In Experiment 3 a low dose of the mixed D1/D2 agonist apomorphine increased erections and anteroflexions, an effect blocked by the D1 antagonist. In Experiments 3 and 4 a high dose of apomorphine increased seminal emissions, an effect blocked by the D2 antagonist. Thus, low levels of dopaminergic stimulation may facilitate erections and anteroflexions (controlled by the parasympathetic system and striated muscles) via D1 receptors; higher or more prolonged stimulation may shift to seminal emission (controlled by the sympathetic system) via D2 receptors. This may explain the progression from erectile to ejaculatory mechanisms during copulation.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apomorphine / pharmacology
  • Benzazepines / pharmacology
  • Copulation / drug effects
  • Copulation / physiology*
  • Dopamine Agents / pharmacology
  • Dopamine D2 Receptor Antagonists
  • Ejaculation / drug effects
  • Ejaculation / physiology
  • Male
  • Penile Erection / drug effects
  • Penile Erection / physiology
  • Penis / drug effects
  • Penis / physiology*
  • Preoptic Area / physiology*
  • Raclopride
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1 / drug effects
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1 / physiology*
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / drug effects
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / physiology*
  • Salicylamides / pharmacology
  • Thiophenes / pharmacology


  • Benzazepines
  • Dopamine Agents
  • Dopamine D2 Receptor Antagonists
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2
  • SK&F 89615
  • Salicylamides
  • Thiophenes
  • Raclopride
  • Apomorphine