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Exp Neurol. 2003 Aug;182(2):470-5.

Two organizational effects of pubertal testosterone in male rats: transient social memory and a shift away from long-term potentiation following a tetanus in hippocampal CA1.

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Department of Psychology, Memorial University of Newfoundland, A1B 3X9, St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada.


The organizational role of pubertal androgen receptor (AR) activation in synaptic plasticity in hippocampal CA1 and in social memory was assessed. Earlier data suggest pubertal testosterone reduces adult hippocampal synaptic plasticity. Four groups were created following gonadectomy at the onset of puberty: rats given testosterone; rats given testosterone but with the AR antagonist flutamide, present during puberty; rats given testosterone at the end of puberty; and rats given cholesterol at the end of puberty. A tetanus normally inducing long-term potentiation (LTP) was used to stimulate CA1 in the urethane-anesthetized adults during the dark phase of their cycle. Social memory was assessed prior to electrophysiology. Social memory for a juvenile rat at 120 min was seen only in rats not exposed to AR activation during puberty. Pubertal AR activation may induce the reduced social memory of male rats. Early CA1 LTP occurred following tetanus in rats with no pubertal testosterone. Short-term potentiation occurred in rats exposed to pubertal testosterone. Unexpectedly, rats with pubertal AR activation developed long-term depression (LTD). The same pattern was seen in normal male rats. Lack of LTP during the dark phase is consistent with other data on circadian modulation of CA1 LTP. No correlations were seen among social memory scores and CA1 plasticity measures. These data argue for two organizational effects of pubertal testosterone: (1) CA1 synaptic plasticity shifts away from potentiation toward depression; (2) social memory is reduced. Enduring effects of pubertal androgen on limbic circuits may contribute to reorganized behaviors in the postpubertal period.

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