TrkB is necessary for male copulatory behavior in the Syrian Hamster (Mesocricetus auratus)
The magnocellular medial preoptic nucleus (MPN mag), a subdivision of the medial preoptic area (MPOA), plays a critical role in the regulation of copulation in the male Syrian hamster; in part by mediating the effects of gonadal steroids. For example, ablation of the MPN mag eliminates mating and testosterone placed in the MPN mag restores mating in castrated males. Furthermore, testosterone treatment enhances synaptic density and dendritic spines in the MPN mag. Thus, copulatory behaviors are correlated with increases in synaptic morphology in the MPN mag. As brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and its receptor, tyrosine receptor kinase-B (TrkB), effect neuronal growth and synaptic plasticity, this study explored the role of TrkB and BDNF in mediating testosterone's effects on the MPN mag and behavior. Testosterone treatment increased BDNF expression and conversely lowered TrkB expression in the MPOA. siRNA-mediated TrkB knockdown in the MPN mag eliminated copulation two-days post injection and the behavior was restored one week later. These data indicate that testosterone influences the expression of BDNF and TrkB in the MPOA and that expression of copulation is dependent on the presence of TrkB. Taken together our findings support a role for TrkB and BDNF in mediating the effects of testosterone on copulatory behavior in the Syrian hamster.