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Open AccessArticle

Adrenal Steroids Uniquely Influence Sexual Motivation Behavior in Male Rats

Behavioral Neuroscience Group, University of Missouri-St. Louis, 8001 Natural Bridge Road, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA
Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, Washington University in St. Louis, Box 8134, 660 S. Euclid, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Behav. Sci. 2012, 2(3), 195-206;
Received: 4 July 2012 / Revised: 11 August 2012 / Accepted: 21 August 2012 / Published: 31 August 2012
PDF [188 KB, uploaded 31 August 2012]


The androgenic adrenal steroids dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and 4α-androstenedione (4-A) have significant biological activity, but it is unclear if the behavioral effects are unique or only reflections of the effects of testosterone (TS). Gonadally intact male Long-Evans rats were assigned to groups to receive supplements of DHEA, 4-A, TS, corticosteroid (CORT), all at 400 µg steroid/kg of body weight, or vehicle only for 5 weeks. All males were tested in a paradigm for sexual motivation that measures time and urinary marks near an inaccessible receptive female. It was found that DHEA and 4-A supplements failed to influence time near the estrous female in the same way TS supplements did, and, indeed, 5 weeks of 4-A administration reduced the time similar to the suppressive effects of CORT after 3 weeks. Further, animals treated with DHEA or 4-A left fewer urinary marks near an estrous female than TS and control groups. These results suggest that DHEA and 4-A are not merely precursors of sex hormones, and provide support for these steroids influencing the brain and behavior in a unique fashion that is dissimilar from the effects of TS on male sexual behavior. View Full-Text
Keywords: DHEA; androstenedione; corticosteroids; motivation; mechanisms DHEA; androstenedione; corticosteroids; motivation; mechanisms

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Taylor, G.T.; Dearborn, J.T.; Maloney, S.E. Adrenal Steroids Uniquely Influence Sexual Motivation Behavior in Male Rats. Behav. Sci. 2012, 2, 195-206.

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