Tatsuya Hattori, Takuya Osakada, Takuto Masaoka, Rumi Oyama, Nao Horio, Kazutaka Mogi, Miho Nagasawa, Sachiko Haga-Yamanaka, Kazushige Touhara * and Takefumi Kikusui *


The Bruce effect refers to pregnancy termination in recently pregnant female rodents upon exposure to unfamiliar males [1]. This event occurs in specific combinations of laboratory mouse strains via the vomeronasal system [2, 3]; however, the responsible chemosensory signals have not been fully identified. Here we demonstrate that the male pheromone exocrine gland-secreting peptide 1 (ESP1) is one of the key factors that causes pregnancy block. Female mice exhibited high pregnancy failure rates upon encountering males that secreted different levels of ESP1 compared to the mated male. The effect was not observed in mice that lacked the ESP1 receptor, V2Rp5, which is expressed in vomeronasal sensory neurons. Prolactin surges in the blood after mating, which are essential for maintaining luteal function, were suppressed by ESP1 exposure, suggesting that a neuroendocrine mechanism underlies ESP1-mediated pregnancy failure. The single peptide pheromone ESP1 conveys not only maleness to promote female receptivity but also the males’ characteristics to facilitate memorization of the mating partner.

Paper Information

: Current Biology
: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.09.013