[en] The rapid and temporary suppression of reproductive behavior is often assumed to be an important feature of the adaptive acute stress response. However, how this suppression operates at the mechanistic level is poorly understood.The enzyme aromatase converts testosterone to estradiol in the brain to activate reproductive behavior in male Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica). The discovery of rapid and reversible modification of aromatase activity (AA) provides a potential mechanism for fast, stress induced changes in behavior. We investigated the effects of acute stress on AA in both sexes by measuring enzyme activity in all aromatase-expressing brain nuclei before, during, and after 30 min of acute restraint stress. We show here that acute stress rapidly alters AA in the male and female brain and
that these changes are specific to the brain nuclei and sex of the individual. Specifically, acute stress rapidly (5 min) increased AA in the male medial preoptic nucleus, a region controlling male reproductive behavior; in females, a similar increase was also observed, but it appeared delayed (15min) and had smaller amplitude. In the ventromedial and tuberal hypothalamus, regions associated with female reproductive behavior, stress induced a quick and sustained decrease in AA in females, but in males, only a slight increase (ventromedial) or no change (tuberal) in AA was observed. Effects of acute stress on brain estrogen production, therefore, represent one potential way through which stress affects reproduction.