Effects of the Female Estrous Cycle on the Sexual Behaviors and Ultrasonic Vocalizations of Male C57BL/6 and Autistic BTBR T+ tf/J Mice

Exp Neurobiol. 2016 Aug;25(4):156-62. doi: 10.5607/en.2016.25.4.156. Epub 2016 Aug 8.

Abstract

A primary characteristic of autism, which is a neurodevelopmental disorder, is impaired social interaction and communication. Furthermore, patients with autism frequently show abnormal social recognition. In mouse models of autism, social recognition is usually assessed by examining same-sex social behavior using various tests, such as the three-chamber test. However, no studies have examined the ability of male mice with autism to recognize the estrous cycle of female partners. In this study, we investigated the sexual behaviors, especially mounting and ultrasonic vocal communication (USV), of BTBR T+ tf/J (BTBR) mice, which are used as a well-known mouse model of autism, when they encountered estrus or diestrus female mice. As expected, C57BL/6 mice mounted more female mice in the estrus stage compared with the diestrus stage. We found that BTBR mice also mounted more female mice in the estrus stage than female mice in the diestrus stage. Although the USV emission of male mice was not different between estrus and diestrus female mice in both strains, the mounting result implies that BTBR mice distinguish sexual receptivity of females.

Keywords: Autism; Estrous cycle; Sexual interaction; Social recognition; Ultrasonic vocalization.