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

Exp Brain Res. 1992;88(2):313-20. doi: 10.1007/BF02259106.


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 micrograms) 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.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Copulation / physiology
  • Ejaculation / physiology
  • Electromyography
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Medulla Oblongata / cytology
  • Medulla Oblongata / physiology
  • Motor Neurons / physiology
  • Penile Erection / physiology
  • Phytohemagglutinins
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Reflex / physiology*
  • Serotonin / physiology*
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Spinal Cord / cytology
  • Spinal Cord / physiology*


  • Phytohemagglutinins
  • leukoagglutinins, plants
  • Serotonin