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Title: Histological and ultrastructural studies of the mouse preputial gland : relation of endocrine effects to behavioural influences
Author: Homady, M. H.
Awarding Body: University College of Swansea
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 1982
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The relationships between sex steroid influences on the 'TO' strain mouse's preputial gland and the behaviour-modifying ("pheromonal") properties of its contained sebum were examined. A systematic assessment of castration's progressive effects and long-term castration followed by i.m. treatments with different doses of testosterone (T); 5a dihydrotestestosterone (DHT) or oestradiol's (for variable durations) effects on preputial weights, structure and secretion was carried out. Preputials were examined after routine histology, staining frozen sections with Sudan black or preparation for electron microscopy. Morphometry was carried out on light microscopy-revealed material. Additionally, the preputial characteristics of individually-housed males were contrasted with dominant and subordinate counterparts from paired housing. Further studies looked at patterns of urinary marking (revealed by u.v. light) employed by differentially-housed mice (from a variety of strains) in a range of situations. Additionally, the effects of castration and subsequent T replacement on thin-layer chromatography revealed lipid and amino acid constituents of urine were briefly assessed. The effects of these treatments on the efficacy of preputial sebum in modifying the attack directed towards long-term castrates by moderately aggressive mice were also determined. Sebum was applied in these tests to the intruding castrate's coat. Castration progressively involuted and reduced the secretion of preputials. These features were equally restored by T or DHT treatment of castrates. Oestradiol further reduced preputial secretary activity in long-term castrates. The preputials of individually-housed and dominant mice were more active than those of subordinated counterparts. Urinary marking patterns seemed indicative of a territorial marking function. It was influenced by sex, age and strain of the subject as well as the presence of novel objects or unfamiliar urine. Castration abolished certain lipid and amino acid constituents of urine which could be restored by T treatment. Preputialectomized animals were less subject to attack than sham-operated counterparts. The ability of sebum to induce attack was progressively reduced by castration but restored by T treatment in a dose-dependent manner. Social experiences may modify endocrine function and alter preputial secretion in laboratory mice. These, perhaps involving urinary marking, may change the responses of conspecifics to such animals. Although odours are important in controlling social interactions in this species, the use of the term 'pheromone' seems inappropriate to describe such factors.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available