Chemosignals and Reproduction in Adult Female House Mice

  • Lee C. Drickamer


Whitten (1958, 1959) first reported in detail that odors from male and female mice could influence the timing of estrous cycles and reproduction in adult conspecifics. Urinary chemosignals from male mice enhance female cycles, whereas urinary chemosignals from other females retard female cycles. Chemosignal modulation of ovarian cyclicity has been documented for a broad range of mammals (see summary in McClintock, 1983). Vandenbergh (1969) first reported that urinary chemosignals from conspecifics influenced the onset of puberty in young female mice. Several decades of research have produced a rather thorough understanding of the manner in which urine from male and female mice influences the sexual development of young females (Vandenbergh, 1983; Vandenbergh and Coppola, 1986; Drickamer, 1986a). The release of these puberty-influencing urinary chemosignals by wild mice has been documented in both the laboratory and under field conditions (Drickamer, 1979; Massey and Vandenbergh, 1980, 1981). In recent tests conducted in outdoor field pens, we have shown that urinary chemosignals affect adult reproduction, puberty in young mice and the size of mouse populations (Drickamer and Mikesic, 1990).


Estrous Cycle House Mouse Pregnant Female Wild Stock Estrous Female 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Drickamer, L. C., 1977, Delay of sexual maturation in female house mice by exposure to grouped females or urine from grouped females, J. Reprod. Fert., 51: 77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Drickamer, L. C., 1979, Acceleration of first vaginal estrus in wild Mus musculus, J. Mammal., 60: 215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Drickamer, L. C., 1982, Acceleration and delay of sexual maturation in female mice via chemosignals: circadian rhythm effects, Biol. Reprod., 27: 596.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Drickamer, L. C., 1986a, Puberty-influencing chemosignals in mice: ecological and evolution considerations, in, “Chemical Signals in Vertebrates IV,” D. Duvall, D. Muller-Schwarze and R. M. Silverstein, eds., Plenum, New York.Google Scholar
  5. Drickamer, L. C., 1986b, Peripheral anosmia affects puberty-influencing chemosignals in mice: donors and recipients, Physiol. Behay., 37: 741–746.Google Scholar
  6. Drickamer, L. C., 1989, Patters of deposition of urine containing chemosignals that affect puberty and reproduction by wild stock male and female house mice ( Mus domesticus ), J. Chem. Ecol., 15: 1407.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Drickamer, L. C. and Mikesic, D. G., 1990, Urinary chemosignals, reproduction and population size in wild house mice in enclosures, J. Chem. Ecol., 16: 2955.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Hoover, J. E. and Drickamer, L. C., 1979, Effects of urine from pregnant and lactating female house mice on oestrous cycles of adult females, J. Reprod, Fert., 55: 297–301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Massey, A. and Vandenbergh, J. G., 1980, Puberty delay by a urinary cue from female mice in feral populations, Science, 209: 821–822.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Massey, A. and Vandenbergh, J. G., 1981, Puberty acceleration by a urinary cue from male mice in feral populations, Biol. Reprod., 24: 532–537.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. McClintock, M. K., 1983, Pheromonal regulation of the ovarian cycle, in, “Pheromones and Mammalian Reproduction,” J. G. Vandenbergh, ed., Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  12. Rugh, R., 1968, “Biology of the Laboratory Mouse,” Burgess, Minneapolis.Google Scholar
  13. Vandenbergh, J. G., 1969, Male odor accelerates female sexual maturation in mice. Endocrinology, 84: 658.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Vandenbergh, J. G., 1983, Pheromonal regulation of puberty, in, “Pheromones and Mammalian Reproduction,” J. G. Vandenbergh, ed., Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  15. Vandenbergh, J. G. and Coppola, D. M., 1986, The physiology and ecology of puberty modulation by primer pheromones, Adv. Stud. Behay. 16: 71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Whitten, W. K., 1958, Modification of the oestrous cycle of the mouse by external stimuli associated with the male. J. Endocrinol., 17: 307.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Whitten, W. K. 1959, Occurrence of anoestrus in mice caged in groups. J. Endocrinol., 18: 102.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lee C. Drickamer
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologySouthern Illinois UniversityCarbondaleUSA

Personalised recommendations