Effects of Ghrelin on Sexual Behavior and Luteinizing Hormone Beta-subunit Gene Expression in Male Rats

J Reprod Infertil. 2016 Apr-Jun;17(2):88-96.


Background: The hormones of hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis have facilitative effects on reproductive behavior in mammals. Ghrelin as a starvation hormone has an inhibitory effect on HPG axis' function. Hence, it is postulated that ghrelin may reduce the sexual behavior through inhibiting of HPG axis. The aim of this study was to examine the effects of ghrelin and its antagonist, [D-Lys(3) ]-GHRP-6, on sexual behavior and LH beta-subunit gene expression in male rats.

Methods: In this experimental study, 128 male Wistar rats were divided into two groups. Each group was further subdivided into eight subgroups (n=8 rats/subgroup) including the animals that received saline, ghrelin (2, 4 or 8 nmol), [D-Lys(3) ]-GHRP-6 (5 or 10 nmol) or co-administration of ghrelin (4 nmol) and [D-Lys(3) ]-GHRP-6 (5 or 10 nmol) through the stereotaxically implanted cannula into the third cerebral ventricle. The sexual behavior of male rats encountering with females and the hypo-physeal LH beta-subunit gene expression were evaluated at two different groups. Data were analyzed by ANOVA and p<0.05 was considered statistically significant.

Results: Ghrelin injection (4 and 8 nmol) significantly (p<0.01) increased the latencies to the first mount, intromission and ejaculation as well as the post-ejaculatory interval. Also, 4 and 8 nmol ghrelin significantly (p<0.05) increased the number of mount and decreased the number of ejaculation. In co-administrated groups, [D-Lys(3) ]-GHRP-6 antagonized the effects of ghrelin. Ghrelin injection (4 and 8 nmol) reduced the LH beta-subunit gene expression while pretreatment with [D-Lys(3) ]-GHRP-6 improved the gene expression.

Conclusion: Ghrelin decreased the sexual behavior and LH beta-subunit gene expression in male rats, whereas [D-Lys(3) ]-GHRP-6 antagonizes these effects.

Keywords: Ghrelin; Luteinizing hormone; Male rat; Sexual behavior; [D-Lys3]-GHRP-6.