Effects of neonatal treatment with two phytoestrogens on male rat sexual behavior and partner preference

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Abstract

The aim of this work was to compare the effect of neonatal treatment with the phytoestrogens coumestrol (COU) and genistein (GEN), administered in equimolecular doses, on the sexual behavior and partner preference of male rats. Four groups of male rats were injected daily from day 1 to 5 with 150 µg of GEN, an equivalent amount of COU, 1 µg of β-estradiol 3-benzoato (EB), or olive oil (VEH) (control). A fifth group remained intact. In the GEN group, intromission and ejaculation latencies decreased, whereas ejaculatory frequency increased. Contrasting results were observed in COU males. EB males could not ejaculate and their mount and intromission latencies increased significantly. To determine sexual-partner preferences, a multiple partner preference arena was used and two types of tests were performed, the first one without allowing contact test (CT) with the stimulus animals, followed by a CT. COU and GEN groups did not show preference for any stimulus animal, whereas the EB males preferred the expert male. When CT with the stimulus animals was allowed, GEN-males preferred the receptive female, unlike the COU and EB groups. It is concluded that neonatal treatment with COU and GEN induced opposite effects, the effects of COU being more estrogenic.

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