The scent of receptive females as a signal to reproduction stimulates male mice to olfactory search of a potential breeding partner. This searching behavior is coupled with infection risk due to bacterial contamination of the fecal and urine scent marks. We hypothesized that sniffing of female soiled bedding induced the migration of immuno-competent cells into airways as a possible adaptation to breeding-related infection. Using bronchoalveolar lavage in a study on mice, we found the number of leukocytes to be significantly higher in male mice that were provided new portions of soiled bedding daily from female cages, in comparison with male mice that were kept in isolation from female scent. The number of leukocytes in blood was equal in both groups. However, monocytes were fewer in number in male mice exposed to female scent than in male mice isolated from female mice. Scent-induced migration of leukocytes was accompanied by typical behavioral (increased sniffing activity and aggressiveness) and morphological (increase preputial glands and seminal vesicles) responses to olfactory sexual stimulus.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Animal Science and Zoology