Rapid changes in brain aromatase activity in the female quail brain following expression of sexual behaviour

C. de Bournonville, G. F. Ball, J. Balthazart, C. A. Cornil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


In male quail, oestrogens produced in the brain (neuro-oestrogens) exert a dual action on male sexual behaviour: they increase sexual motivation within minutes via mechanisms activated at the membrane but facilitate sexual performance by slower, presumably nuclear-initiated, mechanisms. Recent work indicates that neuro-oestrogens are also implicated in the control of female sexual motivation despite the presence of high circulating concentrations of oestrogens of ovarian origin. Interestingly, aromatase activity (AA) in the male brain is regulated in time domains corresponding to the slow “genomic” and faster “nongenomic” modes of action of oestrogens. Furthermore, rapid changes in brain AA are observed in males after sexual interactions with a female. In the present study, we investigated whether similar rapid changes in brain AA are observed in females allowed to interact sexually with males. A significant decrease in AA was observed in the medial preoptic nucleus after interactions that lasted 2, 5 or 10 minutes, although this decrease was no longer significant after 15 minutes of interaction. In the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, a progressive decline of average AA was observed between 2 and 15 minutes, although it never reached statistical significance. AA in this nucleus was, however, negatively correlated with the sexual receptivity of the female. These data indicate that sexual interactions affect brain AA in females as in males in an anatomically specific manner and suggest that rapid changes in brain oestrogens production could also modulate female sexual behaviour.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12542
JournalJournal of Neuroendocrinology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2017


  • aromatase
  • bed nucleus of the stria terminalis
  • brain
  • females
  • medial preoptic nucleus
  • neuro-oestrogens
  • reproduction
  • sexual behaviour

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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