Fos expression in the olfactory pathway of high- and low-sexually performing rams exposed to urine from estrous or ovariectomized ewes

Amanda Jo Mirto, Kathleen Jeanette Austin, Valerie Ann Uthlaut, Charles Roselli, Brenda Mae Alexander

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5 Scopus citations


Exposure to estrous ewe urine stimulates investigation and mounting activity in sexually active but not sexually inactive rams. It was hypothesized sexual indifference may result from an inability to detect olfactory cues or an interruption of the pathway from detection of the olfactory stimulus to the motor response. Sexually active (n = 4) and inactive (n = 3) rams were exposed to urine from estrous ewes. An additional group of sexually active rams (n = 3) were exposed to urine from ovariectomized ewes. Rams were exsanguinated following 1 h of exposure to stimulus. Neural activity was determined in tissues of interest by the presence of fos and fos-related proteins detected by immunohistochemistry procedures. Sexually active rams exposed to urine from ovariectomized ewes had more (P ≤ 0.05) fos-positive cells in the olfactory bulb, but fewer (P = 0.03) fos-positive cells in the cortical amygdala compared to sexually active rams exposed to urine from estrous ewes. Sexually inactive rams had similar (P ≥ 0.13) numbers of fos positive neurons in the olfactory bulb and medial amygdala but fewer (P ≤ 0.04) in the central amygdala, bed nucleus of the stria terminalis and the medial preoptic area compared to sexually active rams exposed to urine from estrous ewes. Sexual inactivity was not associated with decreased hypothalamic function since fos activity was similar (P ≥ 0.14) among groups in the suprachiasmatic and ventral medial nucleus. Sexual inactivity is not likely due to an impaired ability to detect or process olfactory stimuli by the main olfactory bulb and medial-cortical amygdala. Sexually inactive rams may have reduced attentiveness to sexual stimuli and/or decreased responsiveness of regions in the brain which regulate reproductive behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22-28
Number of pages7
JournalApplied Animal Behaviour Science
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2017



  • c-Fos
  • Olfactory pathway
  • Rams
  • Sexual Behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Animals
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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