Fraley GS (2002) Role of hindbrain catecholaminergic afferents to the medial hypothalamus in the regulation of penile reflexes in the rat. Neuroscience 2002 Abstracts 681.4. Society for Neuroscience, Orlando, FL.
Summary: The use of ex copula erections, or reflexive erections, has been used for decades in the study of the central pathways and neuroendocrinology of penile erections. However, the exact neuroendocrine pathways involved in developing penile erections are not known. This study utilized molecular neurosurgical techniques combined with behavioral, histological, and molecular analyses to determine a central link between metabolic state and penis erectile function. Utilizing saporin-conugate immunolesion techniques (DSAP), hindbrain catecholaminergic afferents to the hypothalamus that are reported to be glucoresponsive were eliminated. DSAP-lesioned rats had a significantly attenuated glucoprivic feeding response and significantly attenuated penile reflexes compared to controls. Analysis of Nissl-stained spinal cord sections demonstrated a significant reduction in the size of sexually dimorphic motoneurons. Furthermore, qualitative analysis of calcitonin gene-related immunoreactivity (CGRPir) in alternate spinal sections revealed a decrease in CGRPir in sexually dimorphic motor pools. Analysis of hypothalamic mRNA levels showed a significant increase in both oxytocin and neuropeptide Y mRNA, but not b-actin mRNA. No significant differences were seen, however, in the weight of the perineal muscles, seminal vessicles, or in plasma testosterone levels. These data indicate a novel hindbrain-hypothalamic-spinal cord pathway by which potential glucoresponsive neurons effect the ability to achieve penile erection based upon availability of metabolic fuel.
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