Oxytocin is indispensable for conspecific-odor preference and controls the initiation of female, but not male, sexual behavior in mice

Sunil Dhungel, Dilip Rai, Misao Terada, Chitose Orikasa, Katsuhiko Nishimori, Yasuo Sakuma, Yasuhiko Kondo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Oxytocin (OT) has been demonstrated to be involved in various social behaviors in mammals. However, OT gene knockout (OTKO) mice can conceive and deliver successfully, though females cannot rear their pups because of lack of lactation. Here, we investigated the sociosexual behavior of both sexes in two experimental setups: olfactory preference for sexual partner's odor and direct social interaction in an enriched condition. In the preference test, mice were given a choice of two airborne odors derived from intact male and receptive female mice, or from intact or castrated male mice. Wild-type (WT) mice significantly preferred opposite-sex odors, whereas OTKO mice showed vigorous but equivalent exploration to all stimuli. In social interactions in the enriched condition, no difference in sexual behavior was found between WT and OTKO males. In contrast, WT female initiated sexual behavior at the second week test, while OTKO females required 4 weeks to receive successful mounts. Neuronal activation by odor stimulation was compared between WT and OTKO mice. The numbers of cFos-immunoreactive cells increased in the medial amygdala and the preoptic area after exposure to opposite-sex odors in WT mice, whereas the increase was suppressed in OTKO mice. We conclude that OT plays an important role in the regulation of olfactory-related social behavior in both male and female mice. The influence of OT was greater in female mice, especially during social interactions involving the acquisition of sexual experience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-41
Number of pages8
JournalNeuroscience Research
Volume148
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Nov

Keywords

  • Medial amygdala
  • Olfactory preference
  • Oxytocin knockout
  • Preoptic area
  • Sex differences
  • Sexual behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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