Send to

Choose Destination
Endocrinology. 1998 Dec;139(12):5070-81.

Roles of estrogen receptor-alpha gene expression in reproduction-related behaviors in female mice.

Author information

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


The role of gene expression of the estrogen receptor-alpha form (ER alpha) in the regulation of female reproductive behavior was investigated in estrogen receptor knockout (ERKO) mice, deficient specifically for the ER alpha, but not the ER beta, gene. Estrogen- or estrogen- plus progesterone-treated gonadectomized ERKO mice did not show any lordosis response. Detailed behavioral analysis revealed that ERKO females were also deficient in sexual behavioral interactions preceding the lordosis response. They were extremely rejective toward attempted mounts by stud male mice, which could not show any intromissions. During resident-intruder aggression tests, gonadally intact ERKO females were more aggressive toward female intruder mice than wild-type (WT) mice. Gonadectomy did not influence the levels of aggressive behavior, and their genotype differences when mice were tested both before and after gonadectomy. However, when mice were tested after gonadectomy for the first time, very few ERKO mice showed aggression. In contrast to aggression, male-type sexual behavior shown by resident mice toward female intruder mice during aggression tests was not different between ERKO and WT mice and was completely abolished after gonadectomy of the resident mice. Finally, it was also found that ERKO females showed greatly reduced levels of parental behavior toward newborn pups placed in their home cage. These changes in parental behavior were not influenced by gonadectomy. ERKO females retrieved significantly fewer numbers of pups with longer latencies compared with wild-type (WT) or heterozygous (HZ) littermates when they were tested as gonadally intact or 20-65 days after gonadectomy. In addition, during parental behavior tests, a significantly higher percentage of ERKO mice exhibited infanticide compared with WT and HZ mice, which rarely showed infanticide. Taken together, these findings suggest that ER alpha gene expression plays a key role in female mice, not only for sexual behavior but also for other interrelated behaviors, such as parental and aggressive behaviors. In addition, persistence of genotype differences in parental and aggressive behavior after gonadectomy indicates that ER alpha activation during neural developmental processes may also be involved in the regulation of these behaviors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Silverchair Information Systems
Loading ...
Support Center