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Neuroscience. 2006;139(3):843-51. Epub 2006 Feb 20.

Vasopressin interactions with oxytocin in the control of female sexual behavior.

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Department of Psychiatry, CB# 7160, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.


Previous studies have found that central administration of arginine vasopressin and arginine vasopressin receptor V1a antagonists respectively inhibited and stimulated receptivity but did not examine effects on other aspects of female sexual behavior. Central oxytocin facilitates both proceptive and receptive components of sexual behavior and diminishes male-directed agonistic behavior. The present study examined i.c.v.-administered arginine vasopressin and V1a antagonist effects on proceptive, receptive and agonistic behaviors, and interactions with oxytocin. In experiment 1, rats were primed s.c. with 2 microg estradiol benzoate x 2 days and with 500 microg of progesterone on day 3. Arginine vasopressin (0.2, 0.4 microg) or normal saline vehicle was administered 5 h after progesterone treatment and sexual and agonistic behavior measured 30, 60 and 90 min later. Compared with saline, both doses of arginine vasopressin significantly decreased lordosis responses to mounting and hop-dart proceptive behavior and trended toward significantly increasing agonistic behaviors. In experiment 2, oxytocin (2 microg) infusion just after arginine vasopressin (0.4 microg) significantly increased lordoses and decreased agonistic behaviors but did not affect hopping and darting. In experiment 3, conducted in ovariectomized rats primed with estradiol benzoate (1 microg/day s.c. x 2 days), i.c.v. infusion of 0.5 and 1.0 microg of the selective V1a antagonist, d(CH2)5Tyr-(Me)arginine vasopressin on day 3 significantly increased lordoses and trended toward increasing hopping and darting 4 and 6 h after i.c.v. treatment. In experiment 4, 1 microg of the selective oxytocin antagonist, d(CH2)5[Tyr(Me)2, Thr4, Tyr-NH2(9)]OVT given 1 h before d(CH2)5Tyr-(Me)arginine vasopressin (1 microg) significantly decreased lordoses. Previous studies indicate that arginine vasopressin contributes to light phase inhibition of female sexual behavior. Our findings suggest that arginine vasopressin may exert this effect through interactions that decrease oxytocin stimulation of sexual behavior and raise the question whether sex steroid conditions that stimulate sexual behavior may suppress central arginine vasopressin and V1a receptor activity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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