Adult testosterone treatment but not surgical disruption of vomeronasal function augments male-typical sexual behavior in female mice.
ABSTRACT: It was recently reported that female mice lacking a functional vomeronasal organ (VNO) displayed male-typical sexual behavior indiscriminately toward female and male conspecifics. These results have been cited as showing that a circuit controlling male-typical sex behavior exists in both sexes, with its activation in females being tonically inhibited by VNO signaling, independent of adult sex hormones. We further assessed this hypothesis while controlling the endocrine status of female mice in which VNO function was surgically disrupted. In experiment 1, VNO-lesioned (VNOx) female mice showed no more mounting or pelvic-thrusting behavior toward an estrous female or a castrated, urine-swabbed male (presented simultaneously) than sham-operated (VNOi) females. This was true when subjects were either ovary-intact or ovariectomized and treated with estradiol, estradiol plus progesterone, or testosterone. In experiment 2, female mice given accessory olfactory bulb lesions or a sham lesion displayed equivalent frequencies of male sex behaviors when given testosterone after ovariectomy. In experiment 3, VNOx and VNOi females displayed equivalent frequencies of male sex behaviors toward an estrous female or a castrated male (presented in separate tests), again, when given testosterone after ovariectomy. Our results confirm early reports that adult testosterone can stimulate appreciable male-typical sex behavior in female mice. However, we failed to corroborate the recent claim that VNO signaling normally inhibits the activity of neural circuitry controlling the expression of male-typical mating behavior by female mice.
Project description:Genetic disruption of the vomeronasal organ (VNO), an organ responsible for pheromone processing, drastically alters socio-sexual behavior in mice. However, it is not known whether the VNO has a role during the pubertal organizational period when sex-typical socio-sexual behaviors emerge, or if disruption of the organ in adulthood is sufficient to alter socio-sexual behavior. To bypass the lifelong VNO disruption of genetic knockout models, we surgically ablated the VNO of male and female mice either during the peripubertal period [postnatal day (PND) 28-30] or adulthood (PND 58-60), with sham controls at both ages. We ruled out anosmia <i>via</i> the buried food test and assessed sexual odor preferences by simultaneously exposing mice to same- and opposite-sex soiled-bedding. We then measured territorial aggression with the resident-intruder paradigm and assessed sexual behavior in response to an encounter with an estrus-induced female. Neural activity approximated by FOS-immunoreactivity along the VNO-accessory olfactory pathway was measured in response to opposite-sex odors. We found that peripubertal VNO ablation decreased sexual odor preferences and neural activity in response to opposite-sex odors, and drastically reduced territorial aggression in male mice. Conversely, adult VNO ablation resulted in subtle differences in sexual odor preferences compared with sham controls. Regardless of the VNO condition, mice displayed sex-typical copulatory behaviors. Together, these results suggest that puberty is a critical period in development whereby the VNO contributes to the sexual differentiation of behavior and neural response to conspecific odors.
Project description:Influenza A virus pathogenesis may differ between men and women. The 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic resulted in more documented hospitalizations in women compared to men. In this study, we analyzed the impact of male sex hormones on pandemic 2009 H1N1 influenza A virus disease outcome. In a murine infection model, we could mimic the clinical findings with female mice undergoing severe and even fatal 2009 H1N1 influenza compared to male mice. Treatment of female mice with testosterone could rescue the majority of mice from lethal influenza. Improved disease outcome in testosterone treated female mice upon 2009 H1N1 influenza A virus infection did not affect virus titers in the lung compared to carrier-treated females. However, reduction in IL-1? cytokine expression levels strongly correlated with reduced lung damage and improved influenza disease outcome in female mice upon testosterone treatment. In contrast, influenza disease outcome was not affected between castrated male mice and non-castrated controls. Here, influenza infection resulted in reduction of testosterone expression in male mice. These findings show that testosterone has protective functions on the influenza infection course. However, 2009 H1N1 influenza viruses seem to have evolved yet unknown mechanisms to reduce testosterone expression in males. These data will support future antiviral strategies to treat influenza taking sex-dependent immunopathologies into consideration.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Nitric oxide plays an important role in the regulation of male and female sexual behavior in rodents, and the expression of the nitric oxide synthase (NOS) is influenced by testosterone in the male rat, and by estrogens in the female. We have here quantitatively investigated the distribution of nNOS immunoreactive (ir) neurons in the limbic hypothalamic region of intact female mice sacrificed during different phases of estrous cycle.<h4>Results</h4>Changes were observed in the medial preoptic area (MPA) (significantly higher number in estrus) and in the arcuate nucleus (Arc) (significantly higher number in proestrus). In the ventrolateral part of the ventromedial nucleus (VMHvl) and in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BST) no significant changes have been observed. In addition, by comparing males and females, we observed a stable sex dimorphism (males have a higher number of nNOS-ir cells in comparison to almost all the different phases of the estrous cycle) in the VMHvl and in the BST (when considering only the less intensely stained elements). In the MPA and in the Arc sex differences were detected only comparing some phases of the cycle.<h4>Conclusion</h4>These data demonstrate that, in mice, the expression of nNOS in some hypothalamic regions involved in the control of reproduction and characterized by a large number of estrogen receptors is under the control of gonadal hormones and may vary according to the rapid variations of hormonal levels that take place during the estrous cycle.
Project description:Laboratory mice are used to identify causes of urinary dysfunction including prostate-related mechanisms of lower urinary tract symptoms. Effective use of mice for this purpose requires a clear understanding of molecular, cellular, anatomic, and endocrine contributions to voiding function. Whether the prostate influences baseline voiding function has not been specifically evaluated, in part because most methods that alter prostate mass also change circulating testosterone concentrations. We performed void spot assay and cystometry to establish a multiparameter "baseline" of voiding function in intact male and female 9-wk-old (adult) C57BL/6J mice. We then compared voiding function in intact male mice to that of castrated male mice, male (and female) mice treated with the steroid 5?-reductase inhibitor finasteride, or male mice harboring alleles (Pbsn4cre/+; R26RDta/+) that significantly reduce prostate lobe mass by depleting prostatic luminal epithelial cells. We evaluated aging-related changes in male urinary voiding. We also treated intact male, castrate male, and female mice with exogenous testosterone to determine the influence of androgen on voiding function. The three methods used to reduce prostate mass (castration, finasteride, and Pbsn4cre/+; R26RDta/+) changed voiding function from baseline but in a nonuniform manner. Castration feminized some aspects of male urinary physiology (making them more like intact female mice) while exogenous testosterone masculinized some aspects of female urinary physiology (making them more like intact male mice). Our results provide evidence that circulating testosterone is responsible in part for baseline sex differences in C57BL/6J mouse voiding function while prostate lobe mass in young, healthy adult mice has a lesser influence.
Project description:The biologically active estrogen estradiol has important roles in adult brain physiology and sexual behavior. A single gene, Cyp19a1, encodes aromatase, the enzyme that catalyzes the conversion of testosterone to estradiol in the testis and brain of male mice. Estradiol formation was shown to regulate sexual activity in various species, but the relative contributions to sexual behavior of estrogen that arises in the brain versus from the gonads remained unclear. To determine the role of brain aromatase in regulating male sexual activity, we generated a brain-specific aromatase knockout (bArKO) mouse. A newly generated whole-body total aromatase knockout mouse of the same genetic background served as a positive control. Here we demonstrate that local aromatase expression and estrogen production in the brain is partially required for male sexual behavior and sex hormone homeostasis. Male bArKO mice exhibited decreased sexual activity in the presence of strikingly elevated circulating testosterone. In castrated adult bArKO mice, administration of testosterone only partially restored sexual behavior; full sexual behavior, however, was achieved only when both estradiol and testosterone were administered together. Thus, aromatase in the brain is, in part, necessary for testosterone-dependent male sexual activity. We also found that brain aromatase is required for negative feedback regulation of circulating testosterone of testicular origin. Our findings suggest testosterone activates male sexual behavior in part via conversion to estradiol in the brain. These studies provide foundational evidence that sexual behavior may be modified through inhibition or enhancement of brain aromatase enzyme activity and/or utilization of selective estrogen receptor modulators.
Project description:Dynorphin, an endogenous ligand at kappa opioid receptors (KORs), produces depressive-like effects and contributes to addictive behavior in male nonhuman primates and rodents. Although comorbidity of depression and addiction is greater in women than men, the role of KORs in female motivated behavior is unknown.In adult Sprague-Dawley rats, we used intracranial self-stimulation to measure effects of the KOR agonist (±)-trans-U-50488 methanesulfonate salt (U-50488) (.0-10.0 mg/kg) on brain stimulation reward in gonadally intact and castrated males and in females at estrous cycle stages associated with low and high estrogen levels. Pharmacokinetic studies of U-50488 in plasma and brain were conducted. Immunohistochemistry was used to identify sex-dependent expression of U-50488-induced c-Fos in brain.U-50488 dose-dependently increased the frequency of stimulation (threshold) required to maintain intracranial self-stimulation responding in male and female rats, a depressive-like effect. However, females were significantly less sensitive than males to the threshold-increasing effects of U-50488, independent of estrous cycle stage in females or gonadectomy in males. Although initial plasma concentrations of U-50488 were higher in females, there were no sex differences in brain concentrations. Sex differences in U-50488-induced c-Fos activation were observed in corticotropin releasing factor-containing neurons of the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus and primarily in non-corticotropin releasing factor-containing neurons of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis.These data suggest that the role of KORs in motivated behavior of rats is sex-dependent, which has important ramifications for the study and treatment of mood-related disorders, including depression and drug addiction in people.
Project description:Copulatory behaviors are generally dependent on testicular androgens in male vertebrates, being eliminated by castration and reinstated by testosterone administration. It is postulated that a critical factor in this hormonal gating is up-regulation of neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) in the preoptic area, and consequent enhanced nitric oxide synthesis in response to stimuli associated with a receptive female. Previous studies have suggested that nNOS protein is more abundant in behaviorally relevant preoptic regions of testosterone-exposed animals than in hormone-deprived controls. This study sought to elucidate the molecular events underlying this apparent up-regulation by examining preoptic nNOS mRNA abundance at several time points following testosterone administration in a castration and replacement paradigm. Castrated male whiptails (Cnemidophorus inornatus) were implanted with testosterone, and at four time points over the subsequent 18 days their sexual behavior was tested. A rostral periventricular area previously implicated in hormonal gating of male-typical copulatory behavior was then excised by laser microdissection, and nNOS transcript abundance was assessed by quantitative PCR. As neither this technique nor nNOS mRNA measurements have previously been performed in this area of the brain, expression was concomitantly assayed on adjacent sections by in situ hybridization or NADPH diaphorase histochemistry. Results are consistent with transcriptional up-regulation of nNOS by testosterone and a central role for the enzyme in mediating hormonal gating of copulatory behavior.
Project description:Susceptibility to multiple sclerosis is higher in females than males. However, the underlying mechanism behind this gender difference is poorly understood. Because the presence of neuroantigen-primed T cells in the CNS is necessary to initiate the neuroinflammatory cascade of multiple sclerosis, we first investigated how these T cells interacted with astroglia, major resident glial cells of the CNS. Interestingly, we found that myelin basic protein (MBP)-primed T cells from female and castrated male mice, but not from male mice, produced proinflammatory molecules, such as NO, IL-1beta, and IL-6 in astroglia, and these responses were purely via contact between T cells and astroglia. Because T cell:glia contact requires several integrin molecules, we examined the involvement of integrins in this process. Both alpha4 and beta1, subunits of VLA-4 integrin, were found to be necessary for T cell contact-induced generation of proinflammatory molecules in astroglia. Interestingly, the expression of beta1, but not alpha4, was absent in male MBP-primed T cells. In contrast, female and castrated male MBP-primed T cells expressed both alpha4 and beta1. Similarly, we also detected beta1 in spleen of normal young female, but not male, mice. Furthermore, we show that male sex hormones (testosterone and dihydrotestosterone), but not female sex hormones (estrogen and progesterone), were able to suppress the mRNA expression of beta1 in female MBP-primed T cells. These studies suggest that beta1, but not alpha4, integrin of VLA-4 is the sex-specific molecule on T cell surface, and that the presence or absence of beta1 determines gender-specific T cell contact-mediated glial activation.
Project description:Background Sex is a prominent risk factor for abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs), and angiotensin II (Ang II) induces AAA formation to a greater degree in male than in female mice. We previously reported that cytochrome P450 1B1 contributes to the development of hypertension, as well as AAAs, in male mice. We also found that a cytochrome P450 1B1-generated metabolite of testosterone, 6β-hydroxytestosterone (6β-OHT), contributes to Ang II-induced hypertension and associated cardiovascular and renal pathogenesis in male mice. The current study was conducted to determine the contribution of 6β-OHT to Ang II-induced AAA development in <i>Apoe<sup>-/-</sup></i> male mice. Methods and Results Intact or castrated <i>Apoe<sup>-/-</sup>/Cyp1b1<sup>+/+</sup></i> and <i>Apoe<sup>-/-</sup>/Cyp1b1<sup>-/-</sup></i> male mice were infused with Ang II or its vehicle for 28 days, and administered 6β-OHT every third day for the duration of the experiment. Abdominal aortas were then evaluated for development of AAAs. We observed a significant increase in the incidence and severity of AAAs in intact Ang II-infused <i>Apoe<sup>-/-</sup>/Cyp1b1<sup>+/+</sup></i> mice, compared with vehicle-treated mice, which were minimized in castrated <i>Apoe<sup>-/-</sup>/Cyp1b1<sup>+/+</sup></i> and intact <i>Apoe<sup>-/-</sup>/Cyp1b1<sup>-/-</sup></i> mice infused with Ang II. Treatment with 6β-OHT significantly restored the incidence and severity of AAAs in Ang II-infused castrated <i>Apoe<sup>-/-</sup>/Cyp1b1<sup>+/+</sup></i> and intact <i>Apoe<sup>-/-</sup>/Cyp1b1<sup>-/-</sup></i> mice. However, administration of testosterone failed to increase AAA incidence and severity in Ang II-infused intact <i>Apoe<sup>-/-</sup>/Cyp1b1<sup>-/-</sup></i> mice. Conclusions Our results indicate that the testosterone-cytochrome P450 1B1-generated metabolite 6β-OHT contributes to Ang II-induced AAA development in <i>Apoe<sup>-/-</sup></i> male mice.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Despite the twofold higher prevalence of major depressive and posttraumatic stress disorders in women compared with men, most clinical and preclinical studies have focused on male subjects. We used an ethological murine model to study several cardinal symptoms of affective disorders in the female targets of female aggression. METHODS:Intact Swiss Webster (CFW) female resident mice were housed with castrated male mice and tested for aggression toward female intruders. For 10 days, aggressive CFW female residents defeated C57BL/6J (B6) female intruders during 5-minute encounters. Measures of corticosterone, c-Fos activation in hypothalamic and limbic structures, and species-typical behaviors were collected from defeated and control females. Ketamine (20 mg/kg) was tested for its potential to reverse stress-induced social deficits. RESULTS:Housed with a castrated male mouse, most intact resident CFW females readily attacked unfamiliar B6 female intruders, inflicting >40 bites in a 5-minute encounter. Compared with controls, defeated B6 females exhibited elevated plasma corticosterone and increased c-Fos activation in the medial amygdala, ventral lateral septum, ventromedial hypothalamus, and hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus. Chronically defeated females also showed vigilance-like behavior and deficits in social interactions, novel object investigation, and nesting. The duration of social interactions increased 24 hours after chronically defeated female mice received a systemic dose of ketamine. CONCLUSIONS:These findings demonstrate that CFW female mice living with male conspecifics can be used as aggressive residents in an ethological model of female social defeat stress. These novel behavioral methods will encourage further studies of sex-specific neural, physiological, and behavioral adaptations to chronic stress and the biological bases for interfemale aggression.