Sex steroid communication in the ring dove brain during courtship

M.D.C. Belle, Kazuyoshi Tsutsui, R.W. Lea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This review examines possible role of progesterone receptor (PR) and androgen receptor (AR) "cross-talk" in the expression of courtship behaviour in the ring dove (Streptopelia risoria). In doves, although androgen has been mostly associated with aggressive courtship behaviour and progesterone with the initiation of incubation, progesterone administration to courting birds terminates the aggressive component of courtship whilst having no effect on nesting behaviour. Recent results in doves have identified a high density of androgen receptor and progesterone receptor immunoreactivity (AR-ir and PR-ir) in the hypothalamus of both sexes in regions known to be directly involved in courtship and incubation behaviour. Nuclear AR-ir in courting birds is widespread throughout the brain. Nuclear PR-ir is only localized in discrete regions of the preoptic hypothalamus of both sexes. In the anterior and posterior hypothalamus of courting birds an increase number of AR-ir and PR-ir neurons colocalizes (70-90%) in the nucleus preopticus anterior (POA), nucleus preopticus medialis (POM), nucleus preopticus paraventricularis magnocellularis (PPM), nucleus hypothalami lateralis posterioris (PLH), and tuberal hypothalamus (Tu). A lower percentage of colocalization is seen in birds at other stages of the breeding cycle. The high percentage of AR-ir and PR-ir colocalization in the preoptic hypothalamus of courting doves supports previous reports involving progesterone acting in these brain regions to terminate the androgen-dependent aggressive courtship behaviour in male doves. The increase in PR-ir staining intensity in AR-ir neurons in courting birds suggests that this progesterone-dependent termination of aggressive courtship display in males occurs at the receptor level and may be orchestrated by central oestrogen.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-370
Number of pages12
JournalCanadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2003


  • Androgen receptor
  • Colocalization
  • Cross-talk
  • Progesterone receptor
  • Ring dove


Dive into the research topics of 'Sex steroid communication in the ring dove brain during courtship'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this