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Behav Neurosci. 1998 Aug;112(4):1001-11.

Analgesic responses of male mice exposed to the odors of parasitized females: effects of male sexual experience and infection status.

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Department of Psychology, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada.


The present study shows that parasites influence both the responses of males to infected females and the responses of male hosts to females. Male mice exposed for 30 min to the odors of females infected with the nematode parasite Heligmosomoides polygyrus displayed a naloxone-sensitive, opioid-mediated analgesia, whereas males exposed for 1 min showed a shorter duration and lower amplitude naloxone-insensitive "nonopioid" analgesia that involved serotoninergic (5-HT) and excitatory amino acid (N-methyl-D-aspartate [NMDA] receptor) systems. The male mice distinguished between the odors of infected and physically stressed females, displaying greater analgesia after exposure to the odors of infected than stressed females. The analgesic responses to the odors of infected females were also affected by the males' prior sexual experience; sexually experienced males exhibited significantly greater analgesia than sexually naive males. In contrast, male mice infected with H. polygyrus failed to show a nonopioid analgesia after exposure to the odors of infected females and displayed a markedly lower level of opioid analgesia than uninfected mice. These results show that male mice can discriminate between the odors of parasitized and nonparasitized females and find the odors of parasitized estrous females aversive.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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