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Physiol Behav. 2008 Jun 9;94(3):405-11. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2008.02.008. Epub 2008 Mar 10.

Sleep deprivation affects sexual behavior and tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) levels in sexually experienced male rats.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology and Psychobiology, Institute of Biology, State University of Rio de Janeiro, Av. 28 de Setembro, 87-Fundos, 20551-030 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


Paradoxical sleep deprivation (PSD) produces alterations in dopaminergic systems and also modifies sexual behavior. In this work we evaluated PSD effects on the sexual response and tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) expression in dopaminergic pathways related to sexual behavior of naive and sexual experienced rats. Male Wistar rats had their sexual behavior evaluated in 6 copulatory tests, with a 4 days interval. In these tests, the animals interacted with a receptive female and parameters that compose each component of the male sexual reply (initiation, arousal and ejaculation) were evaluated. After the 5th test, the animals were randomly divided in 2 groups, control and PSD, and 96 h later they were submitted to the last copulatory test. PSD facilitated the excitatory and the ejaculatory component, increasing the copulatory efficiency. In addition, reduced mount frequency and ejaculation latency were observed. The temporal patterning of the sexual behavior was modified, with reduction in the number of mount bouts. PSD per se was not able to modify TH levels, but in PSD sexual trained rats, an increase in the number of TH-immunoreactive cellular bodies in all dopaminergic areas evaluated was detected. Our data suggest that PSD facilitates the sexual response and this facilitation combined to sexual training could be the consequence of increased TH levels in dopaminergic pathways related to sexual reply.

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