Prolactin and testosterone affect seasonal differences in male meadow vole, Microtus pennsylvanicus, odor preferences for female conspecifics

  • Leonard S
  • Ferkin M
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Studies on nonseasonally breeding males have demonstrated that high titers of testosterone (T) stimulate reproduction, whereas high titers of prolactin (PRL) inhibit it. Recent evidence, however, suggests that for seasonally breeding males high titers of both PRL and T stimulate behaviors that support reproduction and mating. Thus, we hypothesized that high titers of both PRL and T are necessary and sufficient for male meadow voles to show a preference for the odor of long-photoperiod (LP) females. We tested this hypothesis by treating castrated LP males with bromocriptine and/or T, and by treating castrated short-photoperiod (SP) males with PRL and/or T. The data showed that high titers of both PRL and T are necessary for LP male meadow voles to maintain a preference for the odor of LP female meadow voles, but high titers of both hormones are not sufficient to induce SP males to show such a preference. Only SP males with high T and low PRL titers showed preferences for LP female odors. Interestingly, SP males with high PRL and high T titers preferred the odor of LP males, and SP males with high PRL and low T titers preferred the odors of SP females. The apparent contradictory effects of PRL and T in SP males suggest that the hormonal control of seasonal differences of male odor preferences may be more complex than previously believed.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Bromocriptine
  • Meadow voles
  • Odor preferences
  • Prolactin
  • Testosterone

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  • Stuart T. Leonard

  • Michael H. Ferkin

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