The Volume of a Sexually Dimorphic Nucleus in the Ovine Medial Preoptic Area/Anterior Hypothalamus Varies with Sexual Partner Preference

Charles Roselli, Kay Larkin, John A. Resko, John N. Stellflug, Fred Stormshak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

123 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Sheep are one of the few animal models in which natural variations in male sexual preferences have been studied experimentally. Approximately 8% of rams exhibit sexual preferences for male partners (male-oriented rams) in contrast to most rams, which prefer female partners (female-oriented rams). We identified a cell group within the medial preoptic area/anterior hypothalamus of age-matched adult sheep that was significantly larger in adult rams than in ewes. This cell group was labeled the ovine sexually dimorphic nucleus (oSDN). In addition to a sex difference, we found that the volume of the oSDN was two times greater in female-oriented rams than in male-oriented rams. The dense cluster of neurons that comprise the oSDN express cytochrome P450 aromatase. Aromatase mRNA levels in the oSDN were significantly greater in female-oriented rams than in ewes, whereas male-oriented rams exhibited intermediate levels of expression. Because the medial preoptic area/anterior hypothalamus is known to control the expression of male sexual behaviors, these results suggest that naturally occurring variations in sexual partner preferences may be related to differences in brain anatomy and capacity for estrogen synthesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)478-483
Number of pages6
JournalEndocrinology
Volume145
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2004

Fingerprint

Anterior Hypothalamus
Preoptic Area
Sexual Partners
Sheep
Aromatase
Sex Characteristics
Sexual Behavior
Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System
Anatomy
Estrogens
Animal Models
Neurons
Messenger RNA
Brain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism

Cite this

The Volume of a Sexually Dimorphic Nucleus in the Ovine Medial Preoptic Area/Anterior Hypothalamus Varies with Sexual Partner Preference. / Roselli, Charles; Larkin, Kay; Resko, John A.; Stellflug, John N.; Stormshak, Fred.

In: Endocrinology, Vol. 145, No. 2, 02.2004, p. 478-483.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Roselli, Charles ; Larkin, Kay ; Resko, John A. ; Stellflug, John N. ; Stormshak, Fred. / The Volume of a Sexually Dimorphic Nucleus in the Ovine Medial Preoptic Area/Anterior Hypothalamus Varies with Sexual Partner Preference. In: Endocrinology. 2004 ; Vol. 145, No. 2. pp. 478-483.
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