Olfactory conditioned same-sex partner preference in female rats: Role of ovarian hormones

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The dopamine D2-type receptor agonist quinpirole (QNP) facilitates the development of conditioned same-sex partner preference in males during cohabitation, but not in ovariectomized (OVX) females, primed with estradiol benzoate (EB) and progesterone (P). Herein we tested the effects of QNP on OVX, EB-only primed females. Females received a systemic injection (every four days) of either saline (Saline-conditioned) or QNP (QNP-conditioned) and then cohabited for 24 h with lemon-scented stimulus females (CS +), during three trials. In test 1 (female-female) preference was QNP-free, and females chose between the CS + female and a novel female. In test 2 (male-female) they chose between the CS + female and a sexually experienced male. In test 1 Saline-conditioned females displayed more hops & darts towards the novel female, but QNP-conditioned females displayed more sexual solicitations towards the CS + female. In test 2 Saline-conditioned females displayed a clear preference for the male, whereas QNP-conditioned females displayed what we considered a bisexual preference. We discuss the effect of dopamine and ovarian hormones on the development of olfactory conditioned same-sex preference in females.

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