Open Access Research

A study of the prostate, androgens and sexual activity of male rats

Maria Elena Hernandez1*, Abraham Soto-Cid2, Gonzalo E Aranda-Abreu1, Rosaura Díaz1, Fausto Rojas1, Luis I Garcia1, Rebeca Toledo1 and Jorge Manzo1

Author Affiliations

1 Instituto de Neuroetologia, Universidad Veracruzana, Xalapa, Ver., Mexico

2 Facultad de Quimica Farmaceutica Biologica, Universidad Veracruzana, Xalapa, Ver., Mexico

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Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology 2007, 5:11  doi:10.1186/1477-7827-5-11

Published: 16 March 2007

Abstract

Background

The prostate is a sexual gland that produces important substances for the potency of sperm to fertilize eggs within the female reproductive tract, and is under complex endocrine control. Taking advantage of the peculiar behavioral pattern of copulating male rats, we developed experimental paradigms to determine the influence of sexual behavior on the level of serum testosterone, prostate androgen receptors, and mRNA for androgen receptors in male rats displaying up to four consecutive ejaculations.

Methods

The effect of four consecutive ejaculations was investigated by determining levels of (i) testosterone in serum by solid phase RIA, (ii) androgen receptors at the ventral prostate with Western Blots, and (iii) androgen receptors-mRNA with RT-PCR. Data were analyzed with a one-way ANOVA followed by a post hoc application of Dunnett's test if required.

Results

The constant execution of sexual behavior did not produce any change in the weight of the ventral prostate. Serum testosterone increased after the second ejaculation, and remained elevated even after four ejaculations. The androgen receptor at the ventral prostate was higher after the first to third ejaculations, but returned suddenly to baseline levels after the fourth ejaculation. The level of mRNA increased after the first ejaculation, continued to increase after the second, and reached the highest peak after the third ejaculation; however, it returned suddenly to baseline levels after the fourth ejaculation.

Conclusion

Four consecutive ejaculations by sexually experienced male rats had important effects on the physiological responses of the ventral prostate. Fast responses were induced as a result of sexual behavior that involved an increase and decrease in androgen receptors after one and four ejaculations, respectively. However, a progressive response was observed in the elevation of mRNA for androgen receptors, which also showed a fast decrease after four ejaculations. All of these changes with the prostate gland occurred in the presence of a sustained elevation of testosterone in the serum that started after two ejaculations. A consideration of these fast-induced changes suggests that the nerve supply plays a key role in prostate physiology during the sexual behavior of male rats.