The role of dopaminergic terminals in the medial preoptic area (MPO) in the regulation of male rat copulatory behavior was investigated. A 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) injection into the MPO of animals pretreated with desipramine resulted in a small (23%) depletion of DA, and no impairment of copulatory activity. Further depletion of catecholamines with alpha-methyl p-tyrosine (AMPT) produced several deficits in the copulatory behavior of 6-OHDA-treated males, at a dose of AMPT that did not adversely affect copulation prior to 6-OHDA administration. The dose-related effects of intracranial apomorphine (APO) injections were also altered by 6-OHDA injections into the MPO. The inhibition previously found with 0.2 μg of APO into the lateral ventricle of normal males was abolished by 6-OHDA treatment. A facilitation of copulatory behavior was observed following the injection of 0.2 μg of APO into the MPO of 6-OHDA-treated animals, whereas this treatment did not affect the copulatory behavior of intact animals. Finally, inhibitory effects observed following an injection of 0.1 μg of APO into the MPO of normal males were blocked by 6-OHDA administration. The relative roles of presynaptic autoreceptors and postsynaptic DA receptors in the MPO in mediating the dose-related effects of APO on copulatory behavior are discussed.
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