Some contrasting effects of surgical and “chemical” castration on the behavior of male cynomolgus monkeys (Macaca fascicularis)

Authors

  • Doris Zumpe,

    1. Department of Psychiatry, Emory University School of Medicine and the Georgia Mental Health Institute, Atlanta, Georgia
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  • Robert W. Bonsall,

    1. Department of Psychiatry, Emory University School of Medicine and the Georgia Mental Health Institute, Atlanta, Georgia
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  • Richard P. Michael M.D.

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychiatry, Emory University School of Medicine and the Georgia Mental Health Institute, Atlanta, Georgia
    • Department of Psychiatry, Emory University School of Medicine, Georgia Mental Health Institute, 1256 Briarcliff Road, N.E., Atlanta, GA 30306
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Abstract

In nonhuman primates, surgical castration reduces plasma testosterone levels and male sexual behavior, and testosterone replacement restores them. Chemical castration with compounds that lower plasma testosterone levels is used clinically in the treatment of certain forms of cancer and to reduce aberrant sexual behavior in male sex offenders. In the United States, medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA) is the drug most used to help reduce serious sexual behavioral problems in men. We were therefore interested in comparing the behavioral effects of MPA treatment (40 mg once a week) in 4 intact male cynomolgus monkeys (4 pairs, 120 tests) with data from an earlier study in our laboratory on 4 males observed before and after surgical castration (16 pairs, 192 tests). Both MPA treatment and surgical castration reduced plasma testosterone to very low levels and decreased ejaculatory activity, but MPA treatment additionally affected measures of male sexual motivation (decreased numbers of male mounting attempts and increased mounting attempt latencies) which were not primarily affected by surgical astration. However, surgical castration decreased intromission ability (percentage of intromitted thrusts per test) and male yawning behavior more rapidly than did MPA treatment. This suggested a hypothesis that different mechanisms could be involved in the behavioral effects—namely, that surgical castration may act primarily via testosterone-dependent peripheral mechanisms, while chemical castration with MPA does so primarily via central mechanisms regulating sexual motivation.

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