TitleEndocannabinoids mediate the effects of acute stress and corticosterone on sex behavior
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsCoddington, E, Lewis, C, Rose, JD, Moore, FL
Type of ArticleJournal Article

For animals in the wild, survival depends on being able to detect and respond rapidly to danger by switching from risky ( e. g. conspicuous courtship) to survival-oriented behaviors. Very little is known about the hormonal or neuroendocrine mechanisms that control the rapid switch in behavioral state that occurs when an animal detects threats or other stressors. Prior studies with rough-skinned newts ( Taricha granulosa), an amphibian model, found that stress-induced suppression of male sexual behaviors (amplectic clasping) involves corticosterone ( CORT) and that this steroid hormone uses a novel membrane receptor and modulates the responsiveness of medullary neurons in clasp-controlling neural circuits. We provide evidence that this rapid suppression of male sex behaviors, when induced by either acute stress or CORT administration, involves activation of endocannabinoids signaling in the hindbrain. In a series of behavioral studies, administration of a cannabinoid antagonist, AM281, blocked the suppressive effects of exposure to acute stress or an injection of CORT on the performance of clasping behaviors in sexually active males. Similarly, in electrophysiological studies, prior treatment with AM281 blocked CORT-induced suppression of spontaneous neuronal activity and sensory responsiveness of hindbrain neurons in clasp-controlling neural circuits. These data suggest that, in response to acute stress, elevated CORT concentration increases endocannabinoids signaling in the hindbrain and alters sexual behaviors by modulating the excitability of medullary circuits.

URL<Go to ISI>://WOS:000243520500004