Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Craig H. Kinsley


Normal male sexual differentiation is the culmination of perfectly timed, prenatal gonadal hormone release. Prenatal stress (PS) has a detrimental effect upon this process, obstructing the natural development of brain structures and sexual behavior. Prenatally-stressed male rats exhibit many physiological and neuroendocrinological differences when compared to control males. PS has a particularly harmful effect upon male sexual behavior, to which the neurotransmitter nitric oxide (NO) has been shown to be intimately involved. The present experiment examined whether PS reduces nNOS, the rate limiting enzyme of NO, in the medial preoptic area (rnPOA) of male rats, and whether administration of the NO substrate, L-arginine, ameliorates the detrimental effects of PS upon sexual performance. PS male rats had significantly less nNOS immunoreactivity in the rnPOA than controls. Following L-arginine administration, PS males reached ejaculation significantly more than PS males injected with the vehicle. These combined results suggest that the resultant loss of nNOS from PS may be a factor in PS-induced sexual deficits.

Included in

Psychology Commons