Neural estrogen receptors (ER), serum testosterone (T), estradiol (E2) and luteinizing hormone (LH), and masculine sexual behavior were measured in young (5 months) and old (24 1 2 months) Fischer 344 male rats. We found that old intact males, which displayed significantly lower levels of sexual behavior, T, and LH than young intact males, also had lower levels of nuclear ER (ERn) in the amygdala (AMG). The age difference in ER binding did not appear to be a consequence of altered blood E2 levels because circulating E2 did not differ between the two age groups. Gonadectomy eliminated ejaculatory behavior and significantly reduced ERn in young males. When we administered exogenous T to gonadectomized males in doses that approximated levels found in young intact males, we found that sexual performance of old males was stimulated to precastration levels but not to levels found in young males. Moreover, such treatment failed to increase ERn in the AMG of old males to the levels measured in the AMG of young males. These results suggest that there is an association between the inability of T to increase ERn concentration in the AMG and the deficits in sexual performance that are characteristic of old males. Thus, the capacity of neural tissue to bind estrogen, presumably derived from circulating T, may be a limiting factor in the determination of androgen responsiveness in aging males.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Behavioral Neuroscience