In the Japanese quail, 7α-hydroxypregnenolone, a previously undescribed avian neurosteroid, is actively produced in the brain. 7α-Hydroxypregnenolone acts as a novel neuronal activator to stimulate locomotor activity of quail. Therefore, in this study, we determined whether 7α-hydroxypregnenolone changes the expression of sexual behavior in Japanese quail. We first measured diurnal changes in sexual behavior of male quail exposed to a long-day photoperiod. We found that sexual behavior of male quail was high in the morning when endogenous 7α-hydroxypregnenolone level is high. Subsequently, we centrally administered 7α-hydroxypregnenolone in the evening when endogenous 7α-hydroxypregnenolone level is low. In the 30 min after intracerebroventricular (ICV) injection, 7α-hydroxypregnenolone dose dependently increased the frequency of sexual behavior of male quail. However, 7β-hydroxypregnenolone, a stereoisomer of 7α-hydroxypregnenolone, did not effect on the frequency of sexual behavior of male quail. In addition, to confirm the action of 7α-hydroxypregnenolone on sexual behavior, male birds received an ICV injection of ketoconazole, an inhibitor of cytochrome P450s, and behavioral experiments were performed in the morning. Ketoconazole significantly decreased the frequency of sexual behavior of male quail, whereas administration of 7α-hydroxypregnenolone to ketoconazole-treated males increased the frequency of their sexual behavior. These results indicate that 7α-hydroxypregnenolone regulates diurnal changes in sexual behavior of male quail.
ASJC Scopus subject areas