TitleBehavioral and hormonal responses to corticosterone in the male red-sided garter snake, Thamnophis sirtalis parietalis
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2001
AuthorsMoore, IT, Mason, RT
JournalPhysiology & Behavior
Type of ArticleJournal Article

Stress and glucocorticoids are generally thought to suppress reproductive function at multiple levels. We tested the hypotheses that exogenous corticosterone would suppress sexual behavior in a dose-dependent manner, as well as drive a decrease in plasma testosterone levels in the male red-sided garter snake, Thamnophis sirtalis parietalis. We examined this by challenging individual males with intraperitoneal injections of exogenous corticosterone, and subsequently exposing them to sexually attractive females or taking a blood sample. Previous work has demonstrated a hormonal but no behavioral response to stress in this species. In this study, increasing concentrations of exogenous corticosterone rapidly suppressed mating behavior in a threshold manner. However, exogenous corticosterone had no effect on plasma levels of testosterone. Thus, these data suggest that the mechanism is in place for corticosterone to suppress mating behavior in this species and that these effects do not occur because of an indirect effect on plasma levels of testosterone but rather are the direct effect of the hormone itself. In addition, the negative relationship observed previously between plasma levels of corticosterone and testosterone in this species was probably not the direct result of corticosterone acting on the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis. Rather, our results seem to indicate that the negative associations between the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) and the HPG axis occur at other levels of these neuroendocrine pathways. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science Inc. All rights reserved.

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