An NMDA antagonist in the MPOA impairs copulation and stimulus sensitization in male rats.
Systemic injections of an NMDA antagonist have been shown to impair mating in male rats. One site where glutamate and its NMDA receptors may contribute to mating is the medial preoptic area (MPOA), which is vital for male sexual behavior. Glutamate is released in the MPOA during copulation, and especially at the time of ejaculation. We report here that the NMDA antagonist MK-801, microinjected into the MPOA, impaired copulatory behavior in sexually naïve as well as experienced males. In rats tested both as naïve and after sexual experience, drug treatment produced more profound impairment in naïve males. In addition, MK-801, microinjected into the MPOA before each of 7 noncopulatory exposures to receptive female rats, resulted in copulatory impairments on a drug-free test on Day 8, relative to aCSF-treated rats; their behavior was similar to that of males that had not been preexposed to females. Therefore, NMDA receptors in the MPOA contribute to the control of copulation and stimulus sensitization. Glutamate, acting via NMDA receptors, regulates many neural functions, including neuronal plasticity. This is the first demonstration that a similar mechanism in the MPOA sensitizes male rats to the stimuli from a receptive female, and thereby enhances their behavior.
Vigdorchik, AV; Parrish, BP; Lagoda, GA; McHenry, JA; Hull, EM
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