Role of anxiety in subordinate male mice sexual behavior

Francesca R. D'Amato, Flaminia Pavone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Dominant and subordinate male mice behave differently when exposed to a female, with subordinates showing impairment of their sexual performance in the presence of the male antagonist. In the present study, we investigate whether these rank-related behavioral differences can be modified by an anxiolytic treatment. In a first experiment, diazepam (0.25 mg/kg) improves the performance of subordinate mice toward the female, as shown by the increase of proxemic behavior, anogenital sniffing, and social grooming of the female. Social grooming of the female is the only behavior modified by a higher dose of the anxiolytic drug (0.5 mg/kg). A second experiment, in which dominant and isolated mice are subjected to the experimental procedure, demonstrates that social behavior of these two classes of males is not affected by the pharmacological treatment. The results are discussed in terms of the advantages of using subordinate males in such a sexual context as a model for the study of anxiolytic drugs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-185
Number of pages5
JournalPharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1992


  • Anxiety
  • Diazepam
  • Mice
  • Sexual behavior
  • Social rank

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Pharmacology


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