Rapid decreases in preoptic aromatase activity and brain monoamine concentrations after engaging in male sexual behavior

Endocrinology. 2005 Sep;146(9):3809-20. doi: 10.1210/en.2005-0441. Epub 2005 Jun 2.


In Japanese quail, as in rats, the expression of male sexual behavior over relatively long time periods (days to weeks) is dependent on the local production of estradiol in the preoptic area via the aromatization of testosterone. On a short-term basis (minutes to hours), central actions of dopamine as well as locally produced estrogens modulate behavioral expression. In rats, a view of and sexual interaction with a female increase dopamine release in the preoptic area. In quail, in vitro brain aromatase activity (AA) is rapidly modulated by calcium-dependent phosphorylations that are likely to occur in vivo as a result of changes in neurotransmitter activity. Furthermore, an acute estradiol injection rapidly stimulates copulation in quail, whereas a single injection of the aromatase inhibitor vorozole rapidly inhibits this behavior. We hypothesized that brain aromatase and dopaminergic activities are regulated in quail in association with the expression of male sexual behavior. Visual access as well as sexual interactions with a female produced a significant decrease in brain AA, which was maximal after 5 min. This expression of sexual behavior also resulted in a significant decrease in dopaminergic as well as serotonergic activity after 1 min, which returned to basal levels after 5 min. These results demonstrate for the first time that AA is rapidly modulated in vivo in parallel with changes in dopamine activity. Sexual interactions with the female decreased aromatase and dopamine activities. These data challenge established views about the causal relationships among dopamine, estrogen action, and male sexual behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • 3,4-Dihydroxyphenylacetic Acid / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Aromatase / metabolism*
  • Biogenic Monoamines / metabolism*
  • Copulation / physiology*
  • Coturnix
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Female
  • Homovanillic Acid / metabolism
  • Hydroxyindoleacetic Acid / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Norepinephrine / metabolism
  • Preoptic Area / enzymology*
  • Serotonin / metabolism


  • Biogenic Monoamines
  • 3,4-Dihydroxyphenylacetic Acid
  • Serotonin
  • Hydroxyindoleacetic Acid
  • Aromatase
  • Dopamine
  • Norepinephrine
  • Homovanillic Acid