Reproductive behavior in amphibians, as in other vertebrate animals, is controlled by multiple hormones. A neurosteroid, 7α-hydroxypregnenolone, has recently been found to enhance locomotor activity in the male newt, Cynops pyrrhogaster. Here, we show that this neurosteroid is also involved in enhancing the expression of courtship behavior. Intracerebroventricular (ICV) injection of 7α-hydroxypregnenolone enhanced courtship behavior dose-dependently in the sexually undeveloped males that had been pretreated with prolactin and gonadotropin, which is known to bring the males to a sexually developed state. But, unlike the case in the locomotion activity, 7α-hydroxypregnenolone did not elicit the behavior in males receiving no prior injections of these hormones. ICV administration of ketoconazole, an inhibitor of the steroidogenic enzyme cytochrome P450s, suppressed the spontaneously occurring courtship behavior in sexually active males. Supplementation with 7α-hydroxypregnenolone reversed the effect of ketoconazole in these animals. It was also demonstrated that the effect of the neurosteroid on the courtship behavior was blocked by a dopamine D2-like, but not by a D1-like, receptor antagonist. These results indicate that endogenous 7α-hydroxypregnenolone enhances the expression of the male courtship behavior through a dopaminergic system mediated by a D2-like receptor in the brain.
ASJC Scopus subject areas