Intromissive stimulation from the male increases extracellular dopamine release from fluoro-gold-identified neurons within the midbrain of female hamsters

Jess G. Kohlert, Richard K. Rowe, Robert L. Meisel

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40 Scopus citations


Extracellular concentrations of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens were monitored using microdialysis in ovariectomized female Syrian hamsters hormonally primed with estradiol and progesterone or with a similar regimen of oil injections. Some females in each of these groups had their vaginas occluded with tape, whereas the remaining females' vaginas stayed unoccluded. When exposed to a male, both groups of hormonally primed females showed high levels of lordosis. However, only in the hormone-primed, unoccluded females were there significant elevations of dialysate dopamine during the sexual interactions with the male. There were no significant elevations in dopamine levels in the oil-treated females during interactions with the male. These data suggest that nucleus accumbens dopamine is responsive to stimuli associated with the vaginocervical stimulation received by the female during intromissions by the male. Histological analyses were based on Fluoro-Gold efflux through the probes combined with immunocytochemistry for tyrosine hydroxylase. Probe placements in the rostral accumbens, caudal accumbens, or rostral bed nucleus of the stria terminalis were not distinguishable based on analyses of basal dopamine levels, volume of Fluoro-Gold injection sites, or Fluoro-Gold labeling of midbrain, tyrosine hydroxylase-stained neurons. The number of midbrain neurons containing Fluoro-Gold was positively related to basal dopamine levels, indicating that the amount of dopamine recovered from the nucleus accumbens in microdialysis studies is a function of the number of neurons contributing to the terminal field in the region of the probe.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-154
Number of pages12
JournalHormones and Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1997

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Gavin Cotter for his help with the behavioral analysis and Terry Powley for providing the low-light-level video camera and for assistance in photographing brain tissue using the confocal microscope. This research was supported by Grant IBN-9412543 from the National Science Foundation.

Copyright 2017 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Dopamine
  • Female sexual behavior
  • Microdialysis
  • Nucleus accumbens
  • Substantia nigra
  • Vaginal stimulation
  • Ventral tegmental area


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