Sexual behaviour was induced in castrated male rats with oestradiol-17β- or testosterone-filled constant-release implants. Testosterone-induced sexual behaviour was unaffected by treatment with the 5α-reductase inhibitor 17β-N,N-diethylcarbamoyl-4-aza-5α-androstan-3-one (4-MA; 16·7 mg/day) but treatment with the aromatization inhibitor 1,4,6-androstatriene-3,17-dione (ATD; 10 mg/day) prevented testosterone from inducing the behaviour. Sexual behaviour could be activated in castrated rats treated with testosterone plus ATD by treatment with 4-MA or with implants filled with a low dose of oestradiol. Lordosis behaviour induced in ovariectomized rats with testosterone-filled implants and progesterone was blocked by ATD treatment and could not be activated with 4-MA but oestradiol implants restored the display of lordosis in the testosterone plus ATD-treated females. 4-MA inhibited the in-vitro formation of [14C]5α-dihydrotestosterone from [14C]testosterone by combined preoptic and hypothalamic tissue at all doses tested and a high dose of oestradiol exerted a similar effect. The results suggest that androgen aromatization is required for testosterone-activated female sexual behaviour but not for testosterone-activated male sexual behaviour. It is suggested that oestradiol normally acts to control the sexual behaviour of male rats by modifying neural androgen metabolism.
J. Endocr. (1986) 111, 455–462