• copulation;
  • DOPAC;
  • microdialysis;
  • noncontact erections;
  • penile erection


Dopamine and 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC) concentrations were measured in the dialysate obtained with vertical microdialysis probes implanted into the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus of sexually potent male rats. Animals showed noncontact erections when put in the presence of, and copulated with a receptive (ovarietomized oestrogen and progesterone primed) female rat. Dopamine and DOPAC concentrations in the paraventricular dialysate increased 140% and 19%, respectively, above baseline values during exposure to the receptive female and 280% and 31%, respectively, during copulation. No changes in dopamine and DOPAC concentrations were detected in the paraventricular dialysate when sexually potent male rats were exposed to nonreceptive (ovariectomized not oestrogen plus progesterone primed) female rats. These results confirm the involvement of the paraventricular nucleus in control of erectile function and copulatory behaviour and show for the first time that dopamine neurotransmission is increased in this hypothalamic nucleus when erection occurs in physiological contexts.