In both humans and rats dopaminergic drugs can facilitate male sexual behavior; however, systemically administered drugs affect many systems simultaneously. The proposed experiments will first determine the sites and pharmacological specificity of dopaminergic influences in intact animals. They will then test the effectiveness of facilitative treatments in restoring copulation in animals deprived of their olfactory sense or gonadal hormones. Finally, the relationship of endogenous dopamine activity to copulatory ability of castrates will be determined.
The specific aims of this project are to: (1) Determine the types and interactions of dopamne receptors in the medial preoptic area that influence copulation of male rats. Drugs specific to the D1 and D2 receptor subtypes will be microinjected into this area immediately before sexual behavior tests. (2) Determine whether dopaminergic synapses in four other areas (nucleus accumbens, ventral tegmental area, bed nucleus of stria terminalis, lumbar spinal cord) affect copulation. A dopamine agonist and/or antagonist will be microinjected into these sites before sexual behavior tests. In addition, specificity to sexual motivation, rather than motor activation, will be tested using a conditioned place preference test. (3) Compare dopaminergic influences on copulation with those on reflexive penile responses. Similarity of effects will suggest that the effects of dopaminergic drugs on copulation may result in part from increases or decreases in reflexive mechanisms. (4) Test the effectiveness of the dopamine agonist apomorphine injected into the five sites noted above in restoring copulation in anosmic male rats. (5) Test the effectiveness of apomorphine injected into those sites in restoring copulation in castrated rats. (6) Determine whether endogenous dopamine activity in those sites is related to the ability of castrates to copulate. Dopamine activity in several brain areas will be assayed and compared with copulatory ability in castarated male rats. Since many of the mechanisms subserving masculine function are shared by numerous mammalian species, and since dopaminergic drugs have similar effects on sexual function of men and male rats, this information should contribute to better understanding and treatment of human sexual dysfunction.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Neurosciences Research Review Committee (BPN)
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
State University of New York at Buffalo
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
Zip Code
McHenry, Jenna A; Robison, Christopher L; Bell, Genevieve A et al. (2016) The role of ?fosB in the medial preoptic area: Differential effects of mating and cocaine history. Behav Neurosci 130:469-78
McHenry, Jenna; Carrier, Nicole; Hull, Elaine et al. (2014) Sex differences in anxiety and depression: role of testosterone. Front Neuroendocrinol 35:42-57
Gil, Mario; Bhatt, Renu; Picotte, Katie B et al. (2013) Sexual experience increases oxytocin receptor gene expression and protein in the medial preoptic area of the male rat. Psychoneuroendocrinology 38:1688-97
McHenry, Jenna A; Bell, Genevieve A; Parrish, Bradley P et al. (2012) Dopamine D1 receptors and phosphorylation of dopamine- and cyclic AMP-regulated phosphoprotein-32 in the medial preoptic area are involved in experience-induced enhancement of male sexual behavior in rats. Behav Neurosci 126:523-9
Vigdorchik, Anna V; Parrish, Bradley P; Lagoda, Gwen A et al. (2012) An NMDA antagonist in the MPOA impairs copulation and stimulus sensitization in male rats. Behav Neurosci 126:186-95
Hull, Elaine M (2011) Sex, drugs and gluttony: how the brain controls motivated behaviors. Physiol Behav 104:173-7
Gil, Mario; Bhatt, Renu; Picotte, Katie B et al. (2011) Oxytocin in the medial preoptic area facilitates male sexual behavior in the rat. Horm Behav 59:435-43
Muschamp, John W; Hull, Elaine M (2007) Melanin concentrating hormone and estrogen receptor-alpha are coexstensive but not coexpressed in cells of male rat hypothalamus. Neurosci Lett 427:123-6
Sato, Satoru M; Wersinger, Scott R; Hull, Elaine M (2007) The effects of nitric oxide-cGMP pathway stimulation on dopamine in the medial preoptic area and copulation in DHT-treated castrated male rats. Horm Behav 52:177-82
Hull, Elaine M; Dominguez, Juan M (2007) Sexual behavior in male rodents. Horm Behav 52:45-55

Showing the most recent 10 out of 58 publications