The non-aromatizable androgen dihydrotestosterone (DHT) facilitates sexual behavior in ovariectomized female rats primed with estradiol

Maurizio Casarrubea, Andrea Santangelo, Elisa Maseroli, Gonzalo Renato Quintana, Conall E. Mac Cionnaith, Mario Maggi, Beatriz Lara-Fontes, Maurizio Casarrubea, Linda Vignozzi, James G. Pfaus, Valdo Ricca, Mario Maggi

Risultato della ricerca: Articlepeer review

17 Citazioni (Scopus)


It is still unclear whether Testosterone (T) increases sexual desire through a stimulation of the androgen receptor in relevant brain regions or through its conversion to estrogens. The aim of this study was to clarify the mechanisms of T facilitation of female sexual desire by assessing the effect of a non-aromatizable androgen (Dihydrotestosterone, DHT) in a validated animal model. Ovariectomized (OVX) Long-Evans rats were treated with oil (O) + O, 10 mcg Estradiol Benzoate (EB) + O, 10 mcg EB + 500 mcg Progesterone (P), O + 500 mcg DHT or 10 mcg EB + 500 mcg DHT (n = 12 per group). EB was administered 48 h, while P and DHT 4 h, prior to 4 sexual behavioral testing sessions in bisected unilevel pacing chambers. Appetitive behaviors (the frequencies of hops/darts and solicitations) were considered as the main outcome measure. Sexual receptivity indexes [lordosis magnitude, expressed as lordosis rating (LR), and lordosis quotient (LQ)], rejection responses, as well as mounts, intromissions and ejaculations received from the male were also coded. The probability of transition among sexual behaviors was evaluated by Transition Matrices; T-Pattern analysis was performed to detect hidden repeated temporal behavioral sequences. Preliminary analyses found no statistically significant differences between the O + O and EB + O groups, therefore we excluded the EB + O group from further analyses. Rats treated with EB + DHT displayed significantly more appetitive behaviors compared to negative controls (O + O and O + DHT), whereas no difference was observed between EB + DHT rats and positive controls (EB + P); noteworthy, a higher number of appetitive behaviors was observed in the O + DHT group compared to the O + O group. Furthermore, rats treated with EB + DHT showed significantly higher receptivity measures (LR and LQ) and received more mounts, intromissions and ejaculations compared to negative controls (O + O and O + DHT), to levels equivalent to EB + P. No differences were detected in female-male mounts or rejection responses among the 4 groups. Under a qualitative perspective, full solicitation was found exclusively in T-patterns of the EB + DHT group, which was also the only one to display T-patterns of higher order encompassing appetitive behaviors-only events. In conclusion, the administration of DHT in EB-primed OVX Long-Evans rats enhances sexual behavior measures. Specifically, DHT seems to stimulate sequences of appetitive behaviors separated from copulative/reproductive measures. Our data support an independent role of androgens in the facilitation of female sexual desire.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)104606-
Numero di pagine11
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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  • ???subjectarea.asjc.1300.1310???
  • ???subjectarea.asjc.2800.2807???
  • ???subjectarea.asjc.2700.2738???
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