Sexual behavior, neuroendocrine, and neurochemical aspects in male rats exposed prenatally to stress
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The present study was designed to examine some short- and long-term effects of maternal restraint stress-during the period of sexual brain differentiation-on reproductive and endocrine systems, sexual behavior, and brain neurotransmitters in male rat descendants. Pregnant rats were exposed to restraint stress for 1 h/day from gestational days (GDs) 18 to 22. Prenatal stress did not influence the wet weight of sexual organs and the quantity of germ cells in adult male pups; however, these animals showed reduced testosterone levels, delayed latency to the first mount and first intromission, and also decreased number of ejaculations. Additionally, there was an increase in the dopamine and serotonin levels in the striatum. Our results indicate that prenatal stress had a long-term effect on neurotransmitter levels and sexual behavior. In this sense, reproductive problems caused by injuries during the fetal period can compromise the later success of mating as well as the capacity to generate descendants. (C) 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.