The regulation of oxytocin receptor binding in the ventromedial hypothalamic nucleus by testosterone and its metabolites.

PMID 1846593


Oxytocin (OT) receptor binding in the ventromedial hypothalamic nucleus is regulated by testosterone (T) in male rats. However, T is metabolized in the brain, and many of the central effects of T are mediated by its metabolites. The experiments reported here were designed to determine whether T affects OT receptor binding directly or through the action of its metabolites 17 beta-estradiol and 5 alpha-dihydrotestosterone. Adult male rats were either sham operated or castrated and treated 1 week later with T propionate (TP), 17 beta-estradiol benzoate (EB), dihydrotestosterone benzoate (DHTB), DHTB plus EB, or oil. OT receptor binding was assessed autoradiographically using [125I]d(CH2)5[Tyr(Me)2,Thr4,Tyr-NH2(9)]OVT. In addition, seminal vesicle weights were measured as an index of androgenic activity. These experiments showed that TP and DHTB plus EB increased OT receptor binding in the ventromedial hypothalamic nucleus to the levels in intact males. Treatment with EB alone partially reinstated binding to the levels in intact males, while DHTB treatment was without effect. Castrated males treated with either TP or DHTB had seminal vesicle weights comparable to those of gonadally intact males and greater than those of animals in all other steroid conditions, indicating that sufficient levels of circulating steroids were attained in these groups. These data suggest that the induction of hypothalamic OT receptor binding by T is the result of the combined actions of estradiol and dihydrotestosterone. However, the mechanism underlying this interaction is unknown.