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Neuroendocrine Mechanisms Involved in Male Sexual and Emotional Behavior

[ Vol. 19 , Issue. 4 ]

Author(s):

Michele Iovino, Tullio Messana, Emanuela Iovino, Giovanni De Pergola, Edoardo Guastamacchia, Vito Angelo Giagulli and Vincenzo Triggiani*   Pages 472 - 480 ( 9 )

Abstract:


Objective: The aim of this narrative review was to analyze the role played by brain areas, neurohormones and neurotransmitters in the regulation of emotional and sexual behavior in the male.

Methods: We analyzed the currently available literature dealing with brain structures, neurotransmitters and neurohormones involved in the regulation of emotional and sexual behavior in the male.

Results: A common brain pathway is involved in these two aspects. The Hippocampus seems to control the signals coming from the external environment, while the amygdala and the hypothalamus control the response to social stimuli. Stimulation of amygdala in the animal models increases sexual performance, while it triggers violent emotional responses. Stimulation of the hypothalamus causes reactions of violent anger and increases sexual activity. Catecholaminergic stimulation of the amygdala and hypothalamus increases emotional and sexual behavior, while serotonin plays an inhibitory role. Cholinergic inhibition leads to a suppression of copulatory activity, while the animal becomes hyperemotive. Opioids, such as β-endorphin and met-enkephalin, reduce copulatory activity and induce impotence. Gonadal steroid hormones, such as estrogen in female and testosterone in male, which play a major role in the control of sexual behavior and gender difference have been highlighted in this review. Vasopressin, oxytocin and their receptors are expressed in high density in the “social behavior neural network” and play a role as signal system controlling social behavior. Finally, the neuropeptide kisspeptin and its receptors, located in the limbic structures, mediate olfactory control of the gonadotropic axis.

Conclusion: Further studies are needed to evaluate possible implications in the treatment of psychosexual and reproductive disorders.

Keywords:

Sexual behavior, emotional behavior, hippocampus-amygdala, hypothalamus, social behavior neural network, adrenal steroids, neurotransmitters, motivational behavior.

Affiliation:

Interdisciplinary Department of Medicine-Section of Internal Medicine, Geriatrics, Endocrinology and Rare Diseases, School of Medicine, University of Bari “Aldo Moro”, Bari, Infantile Neuropsychiatry, IRCCS – Institute of Neurological Sciences, Bologna, Interdisciplinary Department of Medicine-Section of Internal Medicine, Geriatrics, Endocrinology and Rare Diseases, School of Medicine, University of Bari “Aldo Moro”, Bari, Clinical Nutrition Unit, Medical Oncology, Department of Internal Medicine and Clinical Oncology, School of Medicine, University of Bari “Aldo Moro”, Bari, Interdisciplinary Department of Medicine-Section of Internal Medicine, Geriatrics, Endocrinology and Rare Diseases, School of Medicine, University of Bari “Aldo Moro”, Bari, Interdisciplinary Department of Medicine-Section of Internal Medicine, Geriatrics, Endocrinology and Rare Diseases, School of Medicine, University of Bari “Aldo Moro”, Bari, Interdisciplinary Department of Medicine-Section of Internal Medicine, Geriatrics, Endocrinology and Rare Diseases, School of Medicine, University of Bari “Aldo Moro”, Bari

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