Effects of season, testosterone and female exposure on c-fos expression in the preoptic area and amygdala of male green anoles.
We tested the hypothesis that the presence of an opposite-sex conspecific will result in time-related changes in measures of reproductive activation. We housed male-female pairs of pine voles together for 0, 2, 6, 12, or 24 h before collecting blood, reproductive organs and brains for immunocytochemical analysis of LHRH and c-fos. Control animals were never exposed to an opposite-sex conspecific. Following exposure to a male, there was a significant increase in uterine weight but not in LH levels. In males, there were no changes in peripheral indices of activation, i.e. LH levels, testes and seminal vesicle weights were not altered. Consistent with no change in circulating levels of LH, there was no change in LHRH immunoreactivity at any time. However, c-fos immunoreactivity was significantly greater in both males and females in the cingulate cortex and rostral bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) at 2 h, and in the caudal BNST at 2, 6 and 12 h. Similarly, c-fos immunoreactivity was increased in the rostral MPOA in both males and females at 2 and 6 h. However, in the caudal MPOA, there was a significant interaction between sex and time due to increased c-fos immunoreactivity in females only at 6 h. These results indicate that, in both male and female pine voles, exposure to an opposite-sex conspecific is sufficient to produce rapid, neural activation in brain areas known to be involved in reproductive activation and sexual behavior. This early activation did not occur in LHRH neurons. It is not known if this activation, particularly at early times, is due to reproductive activation or to the formation of pair bonds.