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Horm Behav. 1992 Dec;26(4):457-73.

Mu-, delta-, and kappa-opioid receptor agonists selectively modulate sexual behaviors in the female rat: differential dependence on progesterone.

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Laboratory of Neurobiology and Behavior, Rockefeller University, New York, New York 10021.


Previous studies suggested that opioid receptor agonists infused into the lateral ventricles can inhibit (through mu receptors) or facilitate (through delta receptors) the lordosis behavior of ovariectomized (OVX) rats treated with estrogen and a low dose of progesterone. The present study investigated the behavioral and hormonal specificity of those effects using more selective opioid receptor agonists. Sexually experienced OVX rats were implanted stereotaxically with guide cannulae aimed at the right lateral ventricle. One group of rats was treated with estradiol benzoate (EB, 10 micrograms) 48 hr and progesterone (P, 250 micrograms) 4 hr before testing, whereas the other group was treated with EB alone. Rats were infused with different doses of the selective mu-receptor agonist DAMGO, the selective delta-receptor agonist DPDPE, or the selective kappa-receptor agonist U50-488. The females were placed with a sexually vigorous male in a bilevel chamber (Mendelson and Gorzalka, 1987) for three tests of sexual behavior, beginning 15, 30, and 60 min after each infusion. DAMGO reduced lordosis quotients and magnitudes significantly in rats treated with EB and P, but not in rats treated with EB alone. In contrast, DPDPE and U50-488H increased lordosis quotients and magnitudes significantly in both steroid-treatment groups. Surprisingly, measures of proceptivity, rejection responses, and level changes were not affected significantly by mu or kappa agonists, although proceptivity and rejection responses were affected by DPDPE treatment. These results suggest that the effects of lateral ventricular infusions of opioid receptor agonists on the sexual behavior of female rats are relatively specific to lordosis behavior. Moreover, the facilitation of lordosis behavior by delta- or kappa-receptor agonists is independent of progesterone treatment, whereas the inhibitory effect of mu-receptor agonists on lordosis behavior may require the presence of progesterone.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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