Convergent pathways for steroid hormone- and neurotransmitter-induced rat sexual behavior

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Science  26 Aug 1994:
Vol. 265, Issue 5176, pp. 1246-1249
DOI: 10.1126/science.7915049


Estrogen and progesterone modulate gene expression in rodents by activation of intracellular receptors in the hypothalamus, which regulate neuronal networks that control female sexual behavior. However, the neurotransmitter dopamine has been shown to activate certain steroid receptors in a ligand-independent manner. A dopamine receptor stimulant and a D1 receptor agonist, but not a D2 receptor agonist, mimicked the effects of progesterone in facilitating sexual behavior in female rats. The facilitory effect of the neurotransmitter was blocked by progesterone receptor antagonists, a D1 receptor antagonist, or antisense oligonucleotides to the progesterone receptor. The results suggest that in rodents neurotransmitters may regulate in vivo gene expression and behavior by means of cross-talk with steroid receptors in the brain.