Modification of sexual behavior of Long-Evans male rats by drugs acting on the 5-HT(1A) receptor

Jamil Rehman, Ayal Kaynan, George Christ, Mira Valcic, Saul Maayani, Arnold Melman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Modulation of the sexual behavior of male rats by the anxiolytic buspirone (S-20499) and its analog gepirone were compared to the effects of 8-OH-DPAT (or DPAT, a selective 5-HT(1A) reference agonist), and BMY-7378 (a selective 5-HT(1A) partial agonist). Long-Evans rats were used; modulation of copulatory behavior and alteration of penile reflexes were examined. Modulation of copulatory behavior was assessed by three indices: frequency and length of intromission, and latency of ejaculation. DPAT, at doses of 1- 8 mg/kg, reduced these three indices in a time dependent manner such that the effects peaked at 45 min and normalized at 90 min. The dose-effect relationship (assessed 45 min after DPAT injection) is bell-shaped with an ED50 approximately 1 mg/kg on the ascending limb of the curve. The effects of buspirone (2 mg/kg) and gepirone (2 mg/kg) on copulatory behavior were indistinguishable from control. BMY-7378 alone and in combination with these other 5-HT(1A) agonists reduced copulatory behavior, though not statistically significant. Penile reflexes, including number of erections, cups and flips, were inhibited by these agents: DPAT > buspirone > gepirone (inactive at 2 mg/kg). Furthermore, the latency period to erection was at least doubled by DPAT (2 mg/kg). Buspirone and gepirone, however, reduced the latency period to erection. BMY-7378 inhibited penile reflexes when administered alone and even more in combination with DPAT or buspirone. Two butyrophenone analogs, spiperone (a 5-HT(1A) and dopamine D2 antagonist) and haloperidol (a D2 antagonist), were also tested for their interaction with DPAT. Both of these drugs (at 0.25 mg/kg, 60 min after administration) reduced all indices of penile reflexes and copulation. Furthermore, in combination with DPAT (2 mg/kg, 45 min), the effects were synergistic such that sexual activity came nearly to a standstill. These opposing effects on putatively brain originated copulatory behavior and spinal mediated penile reflexes indicate that the effects of buspirone and DPAT on sexual behavior in the male rat may be possible at different parts of the central nervous system. If a tentative shared target site by DPAT and buspirone is the 5-HT(1A) receptor, than the same 5-HT receptor sub-type at different locations (brain, raphe nuclei, spinal cord and autonomic ganglia) may modulate rat sexual behavior in opposing ways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)414-425
Number of pages12
JournalBrain research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 13 1999


  • BMY-7378
  • Buspirone
  • Copulatory behavior
  • DPAT
  • Gepirone
  • Penile reflex
  • Receptor
  • Serotonin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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