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Physiol Behav. 2001 May;73(1-2):75-80.

Fos-like immunoreactivity in brain regions of domestic rams following exposure to rams or ewes.

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Reproductive Biology Program, University of Wyoming-Laramie, P.O. Box 3684, Laramie, WY 82071, USA.


Limbic and basal forebrain-hypothalamic regions from male sheep differing in sexual performance were quantified for fos-like immunoreactivity. Rams classified as high-sexually performing (HP), low-sexually performing (LP), and male-oriented (MO) received noncontact sensory stimulation from either ewes in estrus (HP, n=5; LP, n=4; MO, n=4) or other males (HP, n=5; LP, n=4; MO, n=5) for a 4-h period on each of 3 consecutive days. Following exposure to stimulus animals on the third day, rams were euthanized and their brains were perfused with a 1% paraformaldehyde/1.5% glutaraldehyde solution and sections were analyzed for fos-like immunoreactivity. Brain regions analyzed were the medial amygdala (meAMY), medial preoptic area (mPOA), bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST), and ventromedial hypothalamic nucleus (VMH). Fos-like immunoreactivity differed between groups in the mPOA and BNST but not in the meAMY or VMH. LP rams exposed to estrous ewes had more (P<.05) neurons staining positive for fos and fos-related antigens (FRA) in the mPOA and BNST than LP rams exposed to other rams or MO rams exposed to either estrous ewes or other rams. Numbers of neurons staining positive for FRA in the mPOA and BNST of LP rams exposed to estrous ewes, however, were not different (P>.05) from HP rams exposed to either estrous ewes or other rams. The similar fos-like immunoreactivity in areas important for the display of sexual behavior in HP and LP rams may reflect similar sensory input in these two groups of rams; however, LP rams, in contrast to HP rams, do not appear to respond similarly to the same sensory stimulus.

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