Neuronal Activity of Aromatase Enzyme in Non-Copulating Male Rats

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There are apparently normal male rats that fail to initiate copulation; these animals are called non-copulating (NC) males. Several research groups have demonstrated that conversion of testosterone to oestradiol (aromatisation) in specific brain areas known to be involved in the control of masculine sexual behaviour is fundamental in the control of masculine sexual behaviour. The aim of the present study was to test the hypothesis that the concentration of aromatase activity (AA) in the brain is lower in NC males than in copulating males (C). We quantified AA in several brain nuclei and also evaluated whether NC rats have altered concentrations of testosterone in their plasma. We found that AA was reduced in the medial preoptic nuclei (MPN) of NC male rats vs C males. In addition, NC and C male rats had similar plasma levels of testosterone. These data suggest that reduced levels of AA in the MPN could be a crucial factor associated with lack of male coital behaviour in rats.

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