Dual Role of Preputial Gland Secretion and its Major Components in Sex Recognition of Mice

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Biological Sciences

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This study was aimed at validating the sexual attractiveness of hexadecanol and hexadecyl acetate, two putative pheromone compounds, from preputial gland secretion of mice. These two compounds have been reported to be among the major components of preputial gland secretion in both sexes but higher in quantity in males than females. In this study, we show that castration suppressed the production of the two compounds, further suggesting their association with maleness. Adding preputial gland secretion and the synthetic analogs of the two compounds to castrated male urine at their physiological levels in intact males increased the attractiveness of castrated male urine to female mice, showing that the two compounds were indeed male pheromones. Furthermore, their sexual attractiveness disappeared upon removing the vomeronasal organs (VNOs) from female recipients. Replenishing castrated male urine with preputial gland secretion and the two compounds at their physiological levels in females increased the attractiveness of castrated male urine to males. Such a reversal of sexual attractiveness for hexadecanol and hexadecyl acetate suggests that they had opposing dual effects in sexual attractiveness in a dosage-dependent manner.


This article was originally published in Physiology & Behavior. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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Physiology & Behavior


Copyright © 2008 Elsevier