Influences of dopamine and glutamate in the medial preoptic area on male sexual behavior

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2014 Jun;121:115-23. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2014.02.005. Epub 2014 Feb 15.


Several brain nuclei interact to orchestrate the appetitive and consummatory aspects of male sexual behavior. Of these structures, the medial preoptic area (mPOA) of the hypothalamus is of particular interest, as it receives input from all sensory modalities, and damage to this region disrupts copulation in a wide variety of taxa. Furthermore, the mPOA is both responsive to gonadal hormones and involved in endocrine regulation. Neurochemical studies have demonstrated that both dopamine and glutamate levels rise in the mPOA in response to sexual activity, while antagonism of these neurotransmitters impairs male sexual response. Here we review how dopamine and glutamate act in the mPOA to modulate male sexual behavior.

Keywords: Dopamine; Glutamate; Nitric oxide; Preoptic area; Reproduction; Testosterone.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dopamine / pharmacology
  • Dopamine / physiology*
  • Female
  • Glutamic Acid / pharmacology
  • Glutamic Acid / physiology*
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / physiology
  • Male
  • Models, Neurological
  • Nitric Oxide / physiology
  • Preoptic Area / drug effects
  • Preoptic Area / injuries
  • Preoptic Area / physiology*
  • Psychopharmacology
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / drug effects
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / physiology
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal / physiology*


  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Dopamine