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Life Sci. 1986 May 19;38(20):1841-5.

Anxiolytic effects of progesterone are sexually dimorphic.


We evaluated the effects of progesterone administration to estrogen-primed rats on licking behavior during a lick suppression test. This test assesses the behavior of water-deprived rats to lick a drinking tube for water reinforcement that is paired to electric shock. Chlordiazepoxide (a commonly used tranquilizer) is very effective in increasing licking during this test. Normal females and neonatally castrated males displayed an increase in shock-punished responses in tests conducted after hormone injections. Normal males and neonatally androgenized females were unaffected. Our results suggest that ovarian steroids, and particularly progesterone, can modulate anxiety in females and feminized males. In addition, the anxiolytic effect of progesterone appears to be mediated by a mechanism different from that of Chlordiazepoxide.

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