Chronic social defeat can inhibit the reproductive system of subordinate males and causes behavioral deficits. Sildenafil treatment increases mice testosterone levels through its effects on Leydig cells of mice and it has been found to work as an antidepressant drug both in humans and in animal models. Since previous findings showed that sildenafil can counteract the inhibitory effects of chronic social defeat on agonistic, reproductive and anxiety-like behaviors of subordinate male mice, we investigated whether these behavioral outcomes can be explained by Sildenafil stimulation of testosterone. CD1 mice underwent an intruder-resident paradigm. After the fifth day of test, subordinate mice were injected with either a 10 mg/kg Sildenafil or a saline solution for 4 weeks. The results of the present study showed that Sildenafil treatment increased counterattacking behaviors and sexual motivation of subordinate males in addition to limiting the increase in body weight often observed in subordinate mice following chronic psychosocial stress. Moreover, sildenafil treated mice showed a pattern of behaviors reflecting lower anxiety. In agreement with previous studies, Sildenafil also increased testosterone levels. These data demonstrate that sildenafil can counteract the effects of chronic stress, possibly through its stimulatory effects on Leydig cells. These data demonstrate that sildenafil might counteract the effects of chronic psychosocial stress through centrally and peripherally mediated mechanisms.
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