Sexual behavior and penile reflexes of neonatally castrated male rats treated in infancy with estrogen and dihydrotestosterone

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17 Scopus citations


Male rats castrated neonatally and treated with a combination of 0.5 μg estradiol benzoate (EB) plus 50μg dihydrotestosterone propionate (DHTP) for the next 14 days displayed normal sexual behavior when injected with testosterone propionate (TP) in adulthood. Neither EB nor DHTP alone had this developmental effect inasmuch as only 20-25% of the neonatal castrates treated with just 0.1, 0.5, or 10 μg EB, or 50 μg DHTP, displayed ejaculatory responses. The periodic application of mildly painful electric shock, which has been previously shown to markedly facilitate ejaculatory responding in normal male rats, failed to improve sexual performance in these latter subjects. This was true even of the castrates treated neonatally with DHTP which frequently intromitted. Castrates treated with EB or DHTP alone neonatally were subjected to spinal transection (after testing of sexual behavior) for examination of penile reflexes. Those treated with DHTP showed normal reflexes, characterized by numerous erections and flips, indicating the presumably nonaromatizable DHTP has developmental effects on penile reflexes similar to those of testosterone. Subjects treated with EB, including four animals that had ejaculated at least once, displayed very few, if any, erections on reflex tests and no flips. These results show that sometimes intromissive and ejaculatory patterns can occur even though the animal appears to have little or no capacity for penile reflexes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)256-268
Number of pages13
JournalHormones and Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1979

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Neurology
  • Psychology(all)


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