High fetal estrogen concentrations: correlation with increased adult sexual activity and decreased aggression in male mice

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  17 Jun 1983:
Vol. 220, Issue 4603, pp. 1306-1309
DOI: 10.1126/science.6857252


In the house mouse (Mus musculus), fetuses may develop in utero next to siblings of the same or opposite sex. The amniotic fluid of the female fetuses contains higher concentrations of estradiol than that of male fetuses. Male fetuses that developed in utero between female fetuses had higher concentrations of estradiol in their amniotic fluid than males that were located between other male fetuses during intrauterine development. They were also more sexually active as adults, less aggressive, and had smaller seminal vesicles than males that had developed between other male fetuses in utero. These findings raise the possibility that during fetal life circulating estrogens may interact with circulating androgens both in regulating the development of sex differences between males and females and in producing variation in phenotype among males and among females.