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While selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are widely used to treat anxiety and depression, they also produce profound disruptions of sexual function including delayed orgasm/ejaculation. The nucleus paragigantocellularis (nPGi), a primary source of inhibition of ejaculation in male rats, contains receptors for serotonin (5-HT). The ventrolateral periaqueductal gray (vlPAG) provides serotonin to this region, thus providing an anatomical and neurochemical basis for serotonergic regulation of the nPGi. We hypothesize that 5-HT acting at the nPGi could underlie the SSRI-induced inhibition of ejaculation in rodents. To this end, we produced 5-HT lesions of the source of 5-HT to the nPGi (the vlPAG) and examined sexual behavior. Removing the source of 5-HT to the nPGi facilitated genital reflexes, but not other aspects of sexual behavior, consistent with our hypothesis. Namely, 5-HT lesions produced a significant increase in the mean number of ejaculations and a significant decrease in ejaculation latency as compared to sham lesioned animals, while latency to mating and the post-ejaculatory interval did not differ. These data suggest that the serotonergic vlPAG-nPGi pathway is an important regulatory mechanism for the inhibition of ejaculation in rats, and supports the hypothesis that this circuit contributes to SSRI-induced inhibition of ejaculation.


This article was published in the journal Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior and is available to subscribers here: Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc.

The post-print (post-peer-reviewed) version is posted here with permission of the author.