Sexual behavior is suppressed by various types of stressors. We previously demonstrated that an alarm pheromone released by stressed male Wistar rats is a stressor to other rats, increases the number of mounts needed for ejaculation, and decreases the hit rate (described as the number of intromissions/sum of the mounts and intromissions). This deterioration in sexual behavior was ameliorated by pretreatment with the opioid receptor antagonist naloxone. However, the neural mechanism underlying this remains to be elucidated. Here, we examined Fos expression in 31 brain regions of pheromone-exposed rats and naloxone-pretreated pheromone-exposed rats 60 min after 10 intromissions. As previously reported, the alarm pheromone increased the number of mounts and decreased the hit rate. In addition, Fos expression was increases in the anterior medial division (BNSTam), anterior lateral division (BNSTal) and posterior division (BNSTp) of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, parvocellular part of the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus, arcuate nucleus, dorsolateral and ventrolateral periaqueductal gray, and nucleus paragigantocellularis (nPGi). Fos expression was decreased in the magnocellular part of the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus. Pretreatment with naloxone blocked the pheromone-induced changes in Fos expression in the magnocellular part of the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus, ventrolateral periaqueductal gray, and nPGi. Based on these results, we hypothesize that the alarm pheromone deteriorated sexual behavior by activating the ventrolateral periaqueductal gray-nucleus paragigantocellularis cluster and suppressing the magnocellular part of the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus (PVN) via the opioidergic pathway.
Kobayashi, T., Kiyokawa, Y., Takeuchi, Y., & Mori, Y. (2015). Neural correlates underlying naloxone-induced amelioration of sexual behavior deterioration due to an alarm pheromone. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 9(FEB). https://doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2015.00052