Male pheromone-stimulated neurogenesis in the adult female brain: possible role in mating behavior

Nat Neurosci. 2007 Aug;10(8):1003-11. doi: 10.1038/nn1928. Epub 2007 Jul 1.


The regulation of female reproductive behaviors may involve memories of male pheromone signatures, formed in part by neural circuitry involving the olfactory bulb and hippocampus. These neural structures are the principal sites of adult neurogenesis; however, previous studies point to their independent regulation by sensory and physiological stimuli. Here we report that the pheromones of dominant (but not subordinate) males stimulate neuronal production in both the olfactory bulb and hippocampus of female mice, which are independently mediated by prolactin and luteinizing hormone, respectively. Neurogenesis induced by dominant-male pheromones correlates with a female preference for dominant males over subordinate males, whereas blocking neurogenesis with the mitotic inhibitor cytosine arabinoside eliminated this preference. These results suggest that male pheromones are involved in regulating neurogenesis in both the olfactory bulb and hippocampus, which may be important for female reproductive success.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astringents / toxicity
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Brain / cytology*
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Bromodeoxyuridine / metabolism
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects*
  • Cytarabine / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / pharmacology
  • In Situ Nick-End Labeling / methods
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism
  • Neurons / drug effects*
  • Receptors, LH / deficiency
  • Receptors, Prolactin / deficiency
  • Sex Attractants / pharmacology*
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal / drug effects*
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Social Dominance
  • Zinc Sulfate / toxicity


  • Astringents
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Receptors, LH
  • Receptors, Prolactin
  • Sex Attractants
  • Cytarabine
  • Zinc Sulfate
  • Bromodeoxyuridine