Date of Award

Summer 8-18-2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Dr. Andrew Clancy

Second Advisor

Dr. Matthew Grober

Third Advisor

Dr. Kyle Frantz


Male rat sexual behavior requires aromatization of testosterone (T) to estradiol (E2) in the medial preoptic area (MPO) where estrogen receptors (ER) exist in two isoforms, ERα and ERβ. We hypothesized that E2 acts through estrogen receptor α (ERα) in the MPO to promote male mating behavior. Four groups of male rats were castrated, administered DHT s.c. and bilateral MPO implants delivering either: cholesterol, E2, propyl pyrazole triol (PPT, ERα agonist), diarylpropionitrile (DPN, ER β agonist), or 1-methyl-4-phenyl pyridinium (MPP, ERα antagonist). Additional gonadally intact males received bilateral MPO DPN implants. PPT maintained sexual behavior equally as well as E2, whereas mating was not maintained by cholesterol or DPN MPO implants. Exogenous T did not reinstate mating in animals that received MPP MPO implants. These findings indicate that, in the MPO, ERα is necessary and sufficient to promote copulatory behavior in male rats and ERβ is not sufficient for mating.