Elder, Steven H.

Committee Member

Simpson, Chartrisa LaShan

Committee Member

Eells, Jeffrey B.

Committee Member

Coolen, Lique

Date of Degree


Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Open Access


Female sheep exposed to excess testosterone (T) in utero display symptoms similar to those observed in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Prenatal T-treated ewes display masculinized sexual behavior and increased food-reward seeking behavior. A neural substrate critical for these goal-directed behaviors is the dopaminergic system in the ventral tegmental area. We have recently shown that in adult ewes dopamine expression in the VTA is increased by prenatal T exposure. In this thesis, I tested the hypothesis that alterations of the VTA dopamine system by prenatal-T are caused via activation of androgen (AR) and/or insulin receptors (IR). Analysis of immunohistochemical staining shows an increase of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) expression, AR, or IR, along with changes in co-expression of AR/TH and IR/TH. These changes were blocked or reversed by prenatal treatments with flutamide or rosiglitazone, or postnatal treatments with rosiglitazone or metformin, implicating AR and IR in alterations of the VTA