Hormonal induction of lordosis and ear wiggling in rat pups: gender and age differences

L.-M. Kow; M. Bogun; Q. Zhang; D. Pfaff
December 2007
Endocrine (1355008X);Dec2007, Vol. 32 Issue 3, p287
Academic Journal
Abstract  To assess how early can estrogens induce female mating behaviors, rat pups 8–29 days old (D8–D29, respectively) were injected twice daily with estradiol benzoate (E) or oil (O) followed by progesterone (P) or oil, and then observed for the estrogen-dependent ear wiggling (EW) and lordosis in response to natural stimulation from male rats. In female pups treated with E  E  P, the incidence of EW appeared as early as D13 and increased gradually to reach maximum at D18, when all pups tested showed EW. EW also occurred in E  E  O females, but never in O  O  P females or in any E  E  P male. Lordosis in E  E  P, as well as E  E  O, female pups occurred later, starting at D15. O  O  P females or E  E  P males never display lordosis. To explore the possibilities that the age and gender differences are due to distribution and/or function of estrogen receptor-α (ERα) or progesterone receptor (PR), separate pups were used for immunocytochemical (ICC) staining of these receptors in the hypothalamic ventromedial nucleus (VMN). There was no age difference in female pups in the density of ERα or the induction of PR between D11/D12, when no sexual behavior was observed, and D19/D20, when almost all pups tested performed the behaviors. There were gender differences: male pups had less ERα than females at D19/D20, though not at D11/D12, and did not respond to E in the induction of PR in the VMN. These results show that ERs and their signaling systems in the VMN of rat pups are functional at least after D11 but only in females, and that the gender differences appeared to be due to differences in the molecular biology of ERα.


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