Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour

Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour >> People


(Ph.D. - British Columbia)
Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour
1280 Main Street West
Hamilton, ON L8S 4K1
PHONE: (905)525-9140, Ext. 23014 LAB: 22038
FAX: (905)-5296225
EMAIL: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


My current research concerns the reproductive impacts of estrogens and similar molecules from natural and unnatural sources outside the individual's own body.  This work is focused on estrogenic actions affecting early pregnancy, pubertal development, and perinatal sexual differentiation.  It is primarily conducted with laboratory mice, but we are interested in basic processes observed in diverse mammals including humans.  Here are some of the ongoing projects: 


Roles of steroids as pheromones:  My students and I have been studying two well-known mammalian pheromonal effects, the disruption of early pregnancy by novel males ("Bruce effect") and the advancement of female puberty by exposure to novel males ("Vandenbergh effect").  We have gathered much evidence implicating male-excreted estrogens and androgens that are absorbed into females' systems.  We have shown that very low doses of exogenous estrogens administered to females can mimic both pheromonal effects.  There are established mechanisms in the uterus through which estrogens can disrupt intrauterine implantation of fertilized ova in inseminated females and promote reproductive tract maturation in developing females.  We have measured substantial quantities of estradiol and other steroids in the excretions of males, especially when they are in the presence of females.  We have demonstrated that males' excretions impinge upon the nasal area and skin of nearby females.  We have been tracing radiolabeled estradiol and other steroids in both male and female mice.  We have observed that 3H-estradiol introduced into males can pass from their circulation to their urine.  When females are nasally exposed to 3H-estradiol or urine from males given 3H-estradiol, radioactivity is detected in the females' circulation and readily found in diverse tissues including the uterus and brain.  This ongoing experimentation is providing a new explanation of these classic mammalian pheromonal phenomena.

Xenoestrogens and phytoestrogens:  We are examining the reproductive influences of estrogenic environmental contaminants such as bisphenol-A and parabens.  We are also investigating natural plant phytoestrogens such as those found in soy products.  We focus on the same estrogen-sensitive measures that are examined in the pheromonal studies described above, i.e. the success or failure of early pregnancy and the progress of reproductive maturation in young females.  We are also looking at perinatal exposure to hormone-mimicking chemicals, because of the potential of these substances to alter sexual differentiation of brain and behaviour.

Some recent publications

Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles:

  • Elliott B, Muir C, deCatanzaro D. (2017). Sources of variance within and among young men in concentrations of 17β estradiol and testosterone in axillary perspiration. Physiology & Behavior, in press.
  • Borman ED, Foster WG, deCatanzaro D. (2017). Concurrent administration of diethyhexyl phthalate reduces the threshold dose at which bisphenol A disrupts blastocyst implantation and cadherins in mice. Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology 49 105-111.
  • deCatanzaro D, Pollock T. (2016). Absorption and distribution of estradiol from male seminal emissions during mating. Journal of Endocrinology 231 245-257.
  • Pollock T, Greville LJ, Tang B, deCatanzaro D. (2016). Triclosan elevates estradiol levels in serum and tissues of cycling and peri-implantation female mice. Reproductive Toxicology 65 394-401.
  • Hutton C, Déry N, Rosa E, Lemon J, Rollo CD, Boreham D, Fahnestock M, deCatanzaro D, Wojtowicz JM, Becker S. (2015). Synergistic effects of diet and exercise on hippocampal function in chronically stressed mice. Neuroscience 308 180-193.
  • deCatanzaro D. (2015). Sex steroids as pheromones in mammals: The exceptional role of estradiol. Hormones and Behavior 68 103-116.
  • Borman ED, Foster WG, Greenacre MKE, Muir C, deCatanzaro D. (2015). Stress lowers the dose at which bisphenol A disrupts blastocyst implantation, in conjunction with decreased uterine closure and e-cadherin. Chemico-Biological Interactions 237 87-95.
  • deCatanzaro D, Pollock T, Greville LJ, Faure PA. (2014). Estradiol transfer from male big brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus) to the reproductive and brain tissues of cohabiting females, and its action as a pheromone. General and Comparative Endocrinology 208 126-133.
  • Pollock T, deCatanzaro D. (2014). Presence and bioavailability of bisphenol A in the uterus of rats and mice following single and repeated oral administration at low doses. Reproductive Toxicology 49 145-154.
  • Pollock T, Tang B, deCatanzaro D. (2014). Triclosan exacerbates the presence of 14C-bisphenol A in tissues of female and male mice. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology 278 116-123.
  • Thorpe JB, Gould KE, Borman ED, deCatanzaro D. (2014). Circulating and urinary adrenal corticosterone, progesterone, and estradiol in response to acute stress in female mice (Mus musculus). Hormone and Metabolic Research46 211-218.
  • Rajabi N, Thorpe JB, Foster WG, deCatanzaro D. (2014). Novel male exposure reduces uterine e-cadherin, increases uterine luminal area, and diminishes progesterone levels while disrupting blastocyst implantation in inseminated mice. Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 139 107-113.
  • Thorpe JB, Burgess PS, Sadkowski M, deCatanzaro D. (2013). Estrogen-progesterone balance in the context of blastocyst implantation failure induced by predator stress. Psychoneuroendocrinology 38 3048-3056.
  • Guzzo AC, Pollock T, deCatanzaro D. (2013). Transfer of [3H]estradiol-17β and [3H]progesterone from conspecifics to cohabiting female mice. Journal of Endocrinology217 1-10.
  • deCatanzaro D, Berger RG, Guzzo AC, Thorpe JB, Khan A. (2013). Perturbation of male sexual behavior in mice (Mus musculus) within a discrete range of perinatal bisphenol-A doses in the context of a high- or low-phytoestrogen diet.Food and Chemical Toxicology55 164-171.
  • Crawford BR, deCatanzaro D. (2012). Disruption of blastocyst implantation by triclosan in mice: Impacts of chronic and acute doses and combination with bisphenol-A. Reproductive Toxicology 34 607-613.
  • Thorpe JB, Rajabi N, deCatanzaro D (2012). Circadian rhythm and response to an acute stressor of urinary corticosterone and testosterone in adult male mice. Hormone and Metabolic Research 44, 429-435.
  • Guzzo AC, Jheon J, Imtiaz F, deCatanzaro D (2012). Oestradiol transmission from males to females in the context of the Bruce and Vandenbergh effects in mice (Mus musculus). Reproduction 143, 539-548.
  • Thorpe JB, deCatanzaro D (2012). Oestradiol treatment restores the capacity of castrated males to induce both the Vandenbergh and the Bruce effects in mice (Mus musculus). Reproduction 143, 123-132.
  • deCatanzaro D (2011). Blastocyst implantation is vulnerable to stress-induced rises in endogenous estrogens and also to excretions of estrogens by proximate males. Journal of Reproductive Immunology 90, 14-20.
  • Berger RG, Foster WG, deCatanzaro D (2010). Bisphenol-A exposure during the period of blastocyst implantation alters uterine morphology and perturbs measures of estrogen and progesterone receptor expression in mice. Reproductive Toxicology 30, 393-400.
  • Roullet FI, Wollaston L, deCatanzaro D, Foster JA (2010). Behavioral and molecular changes in the mouse in response to prenatal exposure to the anti-epileptic drug valproic acid. Neuroscience 170, 514-522.
  • Guzzo AC, Berger RG, deCatanzaro D (2010). Excretion and binding of tritium-labelled oestradiol in mice (Mus musculus): Implications for the Bruce effect. Reproduction 139, 255-263.
  • Kolozsi E, MacKenzie RN, Roullet FI, deCatanzaro D, Foster JA (2009). Prenatal exposure to valproic acid leads to reduced expression of synaptic adhesion molecule neuroligin 3 in mice. Neuroscience163, 1201-1210.
  • Khan A, Berger RG, deCatanzaro D (2009). Preputialectomised and intact adult male mice exhibit an elevated urinary ratio of oestradiol to creatinine in the presence of developing females, whilst promoting uterine and ovarian growth of these females. Reproduction, Fertility and Development 21, 860-868.
  • deCatanzaro D, Khan A, Berger RG, Lewis E (2009). Exposure to developing females induces polyuria, polydipsia, and altered urinary levels of creatinine, 17β-estradiol, and testosterone in adult male mice (Mus musculus). Hormones and Behavior 55, 240-247.
  • Shaw J, deCatanzaro D (2009). Estrogenicity of parabens revisited: Impact of parabens on early pregnancy and an uterotrophic assay in mice. Reproductive Toxicology 28, 26-31.
  • Vaillancourt T, deCatanzaro D, Duku E, Muir C (2009). Androgen dynamics in the context of children’s peer relations: An examination of the links between testosterone and peer-victimization. Aggressive Behavior 35, 103-113.
  • Berger RG, Shaw J, deCatanzaro D (2008). Impact of acute bisphenol A exposure upon intrauterine implantation of fertilized ova and urinary 17β-estradiol and progesterone levels. Reproductive Toxicology 26, 94-99.
  • Muir CC, Treasurywala K, McAllister S, Sutherland J, Dukas L, Berger RG, Khan A, deCatanzaro D (2008). Enzyme immunoassay of testosterone, 17β-estradiol, and progesterone in perspiration and urine of preadolescents and young adults: Exceptional levels in men’s axillary perspiration. Hormone and Metabolic Research 40, 819-826.
  • Khan A, Bellefontaine N, deCatanzaro D (2008). Onset of sexual maturation in female mice as measured in behavior and fertility: Interactions of exposure to males, phytoestrogen content of diet, and ano-genital distance. Physiology & Behavior 93, 588–594.
  • Khan A, Berger RG, deCatanzaro D (2008). The onset of puberty in female mice as reflected in urinary steroids and uterine/ovarian mass: Interactions of exposure to males, phyto-oestrogen content of diet, and ano-genital distance. Reproduction 135, 99-106.
  • Vaillancourt T, Duku E, deCatanzaro D, MacMillan H, Muir C, Schmidt LA (2008). Variation in hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activity among bullied and non-bullied children. Aggressive Behavior 34, 294-305.




  • deCatanzaro, D. (1999). Motivation and Emotion: Evolutionary, Physiological, Developmental, and Social Perspectives. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall (Pearson Education).  Also published in Spanish (2001), Polish (2003), and Japanese (2005).


Contact Department

Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour (PNB)
Psychology Building (PC), Room 102
McMaster University
1280 Main Street West
Hamilton Ontario L8S 4K1