Rapid decreases in preoptic aromatase activity and brain monoamine concentrations after engaging in male sexual behavior

C. A. Cornil, C. Dalla, Z. Papadopoulou-Daifoti, M. Baillien, C. Dejace, G. F. Ball, J. Balthazart

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


In Japanese quail as in rats, the expression of male sexual behavior over relatively long time periods (days to weeks) is dependent on the local production of estradiol in the preoptic area via the aromatization of testosterone. On a short-term basis (minutes to hours), central actions of dopamine as well as locally produced estrogens modulate behavioral expression. In rats, a view of and sexual interaction with a female increases dopamine release in the preoptic area. In quail, in vitro brain aromatase activity is rapidly modulated by calcium-dependent phosphorylations that are likely to occur in vivo as a result of changes in neurotransmitter activity. Furthermore, an acute estradiol injection rapidly stimulates copulation in quail, while a single injection of the aromatase inhibitor Vorozole™ rapidly inhibits this behavior. We hypothesized that brain aromatase and dopaminergic activities are regulated in quail in association with the expression of male sexual behavior. Visual access as well as sexual interactions with a female produced a significant decrease in brain aromatase activity that was maximal after 5 min. This expression of sexual behavior also resulted in a significant decrease in dopaminergic as well as serotonergic activity after 1 min, which returned to basal levels after 5 min. These results demonstrate for the first time that aromatase activity is rapidly modulated in vivo in parallel with changes in dopamine activity. Sexual interactions with the female decreased aromatase and dopamine activity. These data challenges established views about the causal relationships among dopamine, estrogen action and male sexual behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3809-3820
Number of pages12
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Aromatization
  • Dopamine
  • Male copulatory behavior
  • Non-genomic effects
  • Quail
  • Serotonin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology


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