Strategies for Determining the Molecular Mechanisms of Oestrogen Regulation of Female Reproductive Behaviour
Steroid hormones secreted by the gonads play a pivotal role in regulating a variety of behavioural and neuroendocrine functions in vertebrates presumably via direct interactions of the steroids with specific target cells in the brain. One of the best studied examples of hormonal regulation of behaviour is the facilitation of mating behaviour in female mammals by the ovarian steroids oestradiol (OE2) and progesterone (P). In rats, for example, the display of female sexual behaviour during the oestrous cycle is associated with endogenous fluctuations of plasma OE2 and P levels (Powers 1970; Feder 1981). The behaviour is abolished following ovariectomy and can be restored in a dose-dependent fashion by replacement therapy with OE2 and P given in the appropriate sequence (Boling and Blandau 1939, Beach 1942; Edwards et al. 1968). That brain cells are the site of action of ovarian steroids in controlling the expression of copulatory behaviour is supported by observations that application of minute amounts of OE2 and P directly to restricted brain regions can activate the full complement of oestrous behaviours in female rats (Rubin and Barfield 1983, Barfield et al. 1984).
KeywordsOvarian Steroid Oestrous Cycle Progestin Receptor Oestrogen Regulation Estradiol Binding
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