Apomorphine-and oxytocin-induced penile erection and yawning in intact and castrated male rats: effect of sexual steroids

Neuroendocrinology. 1994 Apr;59(4):349-54. doi: 10.1159/000126677.


The effect of apomorphine (80 micrograms/kg s.c.) and oxytocin (30 ng i.c.v.) on penile erection and yawning was studied in intact and castrated male rats. In castrated rats both apomorphine and oxytocin responses were abolished. In these animals, testosterone (100 microgramS/kg s.c. once a day for 3 days), restored penile erection while estradiol benzoate (10 micrograms/kg s.c. once a day for 3 days) restored yawning induced by both compounds. 5-Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) or progesterone (each at a dose of 100 micrograms/kg s.c. once a day for 3 days) were ineffective. Given together, estradiol benzoate and DHT partially restored apomorphine- and oxytocin-induced yawning and penile erection, whereas estradiol benzoate and progesterone restored only yawning. Estradiol benzoate-induced recovery of yawning was prevented by the antiestrogen tamoxifen (1 mg/kg s.c. once a day for 3 days). In intact rats, progesterone increased and estradiol benzoate decreased apomorphine- and oxytocin-induced yawning without modifying penile erection, although oxytocin-induced yawning was prevented much less by estradiol benzoate than that induced by apomorphine. Testosterone or DHT were ineffective on both responses. Estradiol benzoate inhibition of apomorphine- and oxytocin-induced yawning was prevented by tamoxifen, which per se failed to modify apomorphine and oxytocin responses, as well as by testosterone or progesterone. The present results suggest that apomorphine- and oxytocin-induced penile erection and yawning are endocrine-dependent and differentially modulated by sexual steroids, suggesting that the mechanisms controlling the two behaviors are different even though they are often associated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apomorphine / pharmacology*
  • Dihydrotestosterone / pharmacology
  • Estradiol / pharmacology
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / pharmacology*
  • Injections, Intraventricular
  • Male
  • Orchiectomy
  • Oxytocin / pharmacology*
  • Penile Erection / drug effects*
  • Progesterone / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Tamoxifen / pharmacology
  • Yawning / drug effects*


  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones
  • Dihydrotestosterone
  • Tamoxifen
  • Progesterone
  • Estradiol
  • Oxytocin
  • Apomorphine