Role of aromatization in anticipatory and consummatory aspects of sexual behavior in male rats

C. E. Roselli, E. Cross, H. K. Poonyagariyagorn, H. L. Stadelman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


The present study was designed to test the hypothesis that aromatization is involved in the maintenance by testosterone of the appetitive component of male sexual behavior. We measured appetitive sexual behavior by administering behavioral tests in bilevel chambers and quantifying anticipatory level changes during a 5-min period prior to introduction of a stimulus female. In addition, we recorded standard measures of consummatory male sexual behavior after the female was introduced. Following 3 weekly tests, level-changing behavior reached a plateau and remained stable for up to 10 weeks. After 10 bilevel tests, rats were given subcutaneous testosterone capsules to clamp circulating androgen at physiological levels. Rats were tested and divided into two groups that were matched for measures of sexual behavior. One group was then treated with the nonsteroidal aromatase inhibitor, Fadrozole (2.5 mg/kg/day), given subcutaneously in β-cyclodextrin and the other group was treated with vehicle. Within 1 week of Fadrozole treatment, the number of anticipatory levels changes was significantly reduced, but not the latency to begin searching. Fadrozole treatment also significantly reduced all measures of copulatory behavior over the period of treatment and increased latencies to first mount, intromission, and ejaculation. After 8 weeks, both treatment groups were given an additional Silastic capsule filled with estradiol and tested for 4 additional weeks. Estrogen treatment partially restored level-changing behavior, mounts, and intromissions but had little effect on ejaculations. These results support the view that aromatization is important for maintaining both the appetitive and the consummatory aspects of sexual behavior in male rats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)146-151
Number of pages6
JournalHormones and Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2003


  • Appetitive sexual behavior
  • Aromatase
  • Bilevel test
  • Consummatory sexual behavior
  • Male sexual behavior
  • Sexual motivation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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