The effects of streptozotocin-induced (STZ) diabetes on neuroendocrine and sexual function were evaluated in adult male rats. Adult male rats were injected with STZ (50 mg/kg) or vehicle and tested for copulatory behavior 7, 14, and 21 days later. The rats were killed 1 month after STZ or vehicle treatment for measurement of plasma hormone levels, hypothalamic catecholamine turnover, LHRH content, and in vitro pituitary function. The STZ rats showed significant deficits in mount, intromission, and ejaculatory behaviors. Plasma levels of testosterone, LH, FSH, and PRL were all significantly reduced in the STZ compared to the control rats, but in vitro LH secretion was enhanced after STZ treatment. In vitro PRL secretion and the inhibitory response to dopamine did not differ between the two groups. The levels of LHRH were reduced in the medial basal hypothalamus (MBH), but LHRH levels in the median eminence (ME) and anterior hypothalamus (AH) were unchanged after STZ treatment. Norepinephrine turnover was reduced in the ME, MBH, and AH of the STZ rats, while dopamine turnover was unchanged in the ME, increased in the MBH, and reduced in the AH of the STZ rats compared to those in the vehicle-treated controls. These results suggest that changes in pituitary and testicular function in rats made diabetic by STZ treatment are secondary to changes in hypothalamic catecholamine metabolism. Changes in copulatory behavior could be due to both reductions in plasma testosterone levels as well as changes in central neurotransmitter metabolism.
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