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See detailSexual partner preference requires a functional aromatase (Cyp19) gene in male mice
Bakker, Julie ULg; Honda, S.; Harada, N. et al

in Hormones & Behavior (2002), 42(2), 158-171

Sexual motivation, sexual partner preference, and sexual performance represent three different aspects of sexual behavior that are critical in determining the reproductive success of a species. Although ... [more ▼]

Sexual motivation, sexual partner preference, and sexual performance represent three different aspects of sexual behavior that are critical in determining the reproductive success of a species. Although the display of sexual behavior is under strict hormonal control in both sexes, the relative roles of androgen and estrogen receptors in activating the various components of male sexual behavior are still largely unknown. A recently developed mouse model that is deficient in estradiol due to targeted disruption of exons 1 and 2 of the Cyp19 gene (aromatase knockout (ArKO) mice) was used here to analyze the role of estradiol in the control of all three aspects of male sexual behavior. When tested in a Y-maze providing volatile olfactory cues, male ArKO mice did not show a preference for the odors from an estrous female over those from an intact male, whereas wildtype (WT) and heterozygous (HET) males clearly preferred to sniff estrous odors. When provided with visual and olfactory cues, male ArKO mice also failed to show a preference for an estrous female when given a choice between an estrous female and an empty arm. However, sexual partner preferences of male ArKO mice were not sex-reversed: they did not prefer to investigate an intact male over an estrous female or empty arm. Thus, male ArKO mice seemed to have general deficits in discriminating between conspecifics by using olfactory and visual cues. Male coital behavior was also severely impaired in male ArKO mice: they displayed significantly fewer mounts, intromissions, and ejaculations than WT and HET males. Latencies to first mount or intromission were also significantly longer in ArKO males compared to WT and HET males, in addition to them showing less interest in investigating olfactory and visual cues in a Y-maze, suggesting that they were sexually less motivated. However, three out of seven male ArKO mice were capable of siring litters provided they were housed with a female for a prolonged period of time. In conclusion, aromatization of testosterone to estradiol appears to be essential for sexual motivation and sexual partner preference. By contrast, estradiol may play only a limited role in the expression of male coital behaviors. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science (USA). [less ▲]

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See detailNoradrenergic control of auditory information processing in female canaries
Appeltants, D.; Del Negro, C.; Balthazart, Jacques ULg

in Behavioural Brain Research (2002), 133(2), 221-235

An ethological procedure, based on the study of the sexual responsiveness of female canaries (Serinus canaria) to song playbacks was used to investigate the function of central noradrenergic inputs in the ... [more ▼]

An ethological procedure, based on the study of the sexual responsiveness of female canaries (Serinus canaria) to song playbacks was used to investigate the function of central noradrenergic inputs in the processing of auditory information. The effects of a noradrenergic denervation on sexual responses was analyzed in females exposed to playbacks of biological relevant auditory stimuli, i.e. sexually stimulating songs, presented alone or masked by auditory distractors. A decrease in behavioral responsiveness was observed as a function of the amount of masking distractors indicating that female canaries have the perceptual ability to discriminate and selectively attend to biologically relevant songs. After the systemic administration of DSP-4, a specific noradrenergic neurotoxin, females exhibited an overall decrease in sexual responsiveness to songs masked or not by distractors. No effect of DSP-4 were detected on the motor activity nor on reproductive behaviors. These results indicate that central noradrenergic inputs modulate the sexual behavior of female canaries by affecting the auditory processing of relevant information contained in sexually stimulating songs. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved. [less ▲]

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See detailThe parvocellular vasotocin system of Japanese quail: A developmental and adult model for the study of influences of gonadal hormones on sexually differentiated and behaviorally relevant neural circuits
Panzica, G. C.; Balthazart, Jacques ULg; Pessatti, M. et al

in Environmental Health Perspectives (2002), 110(Suppl. 3), 423-428

Vasotocin (VT; the antidiuretic hormone of birds) is synthesized by diencephalic magnocellular neurons projecting to the neurohypophysis. A sexually dimorphic system of VT-immunoreactive (ir ... [more ▼]

Vasotocin (VT; the antidiuretic hormone of birds) is synthesized by diencephalic magnocellular neurons projecting to the neurohypophysis. A sexually dimorphic system of VT-immunoreactive (ir) parvocellular elements has been described within the male medial preoptic nucleus (POM) and the nucleus of the stria terminalis, pars medialis (BSTm). VT-ir fibers are present in many diencephalic and extradiencephalic locations, and quantitative morphometric analyses demonstrated their sexually dimorphic distribution in regions involved in the control of different aspects of reproduction. Moreover, systemic or intracerebroventricular injections of VT markedly inhibit the expression of some aspects of male sexual behavior. In adult animals, circulating levels of testosterone (T) have a profound influence on the VT immunoreactivity within BSTm, POM, and lateral septum. Castration markedly decreases the immunoreaction, whereas T-replacement therapy restores a situation similar to the intact birds. We observed no changes in gonadectomized females treated with T. These changes parallel similar changes in male copulatory behavior (not present in castrated male quail, fully expressed in castrated, T-treated males). The restoration by T of the VT immunoreactivity in castrated male quail could be fully mimicked by a treatment with estradiol (E-2), suggesting that the aromatization of T into E-2 may play a key limiting role in both the activation of male sexual behavior and the induction of VT synthesis. This dimorphism has an organizational nature: administration of E-2 to quail embryos (a treatment that abolishes male sexual behavior) results in a dramatic decrease of the VT immuno reactivity in sexually dimorphic regions. Conversely, the inhibition of E-2 synthesis during embryonic life (a treatment that stimulates the expression of male copulatory behavior in treated females exposed in adulthood to T) results in a malelike distribution of VT immunoreactivity. The VT parvocellular system of the Japanese quail can therefore be considered an accurate marker of the sexual differentiation of brain circuits mediating copulatory behavior and could be a very sensitive indicator of the activity of estrogenlike substances on neural circuits. [less ▲]

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See detailThe medial preoptic nucleus receives vasotocinergic inputs in male quail: a tract-tracing and immunocytochemical study
Absil, Philippe ULg; Papello, M.; Viglietti-Panzica, C. et al

in Journal of Chemical Neuroanatomy (2002), 24(1), 27-39

The sexually dimorphic testosterone-sensitive medial preoptic nucleus (POM) of quail can be identified by the presence of a dense network of vasotocinergic fibers. This innervation is sexually ... [more ▼]

The sexually dimorphic testosterone-sensitive medial preoptic nucleus (POM) of quail can be identified by the presence of a dense network of vasotocinergic fibers. This innervation is sexually differentiated (present in males only) and testosterone sensitive. The origin of these fibers has never been formally identified although their steroid sensitivity Suggests that they originate in parvocellular vasotocinergic neurons that are found in quail only in the medial part of the bed nucleus striae terminalis (BSTm) and in smaller numbers within the POM itself. We report here that following injections of a retrograde tracer into the POM of male quail, large populations of retrogradely labeled cells can be identified in the BSTm. The POM also receives afferent projections from magnocellular vasotocinergic nuclei, the supraoptic and paraventricular nuclei. Double labeling for vasotocin immunoreactivity of the retrogradely labeled sections failed however to clearly identify magnocellular vasotocin-immunoreactive cells that were retrogradely labeled from POM. In contrast a substantial population of vasotocin-immunoreactive neurons in the BSTm contained tracer retrogradely transported from the POM. These data therefore demonstrate that a significant part of the vasotocinergic innervation of the quail POM originates in the medial part of the BST. An intrinsic innervation could however also contribute to this network. This interaction between BSTm and POM could play a key role in the control of male-typical sexual behavior and in its sex dimorphism in quail. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved. [less ▲]

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See detailThe assessment of nociceptive and non-nociceptive skin sensitivity in the Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica)
Evrard, H. C.; Balthazart, Jacques ULg

in Journal of Neuroscience Methods (2002), 116(2), 135-146

We evaluated the efficacy of two nociceptive tests, the hot water (HWT) and the foot pressure tests (FPT), and one non-nociceptive test (Semmes-Weinstein test, SWT) in assessing skin sensitivity in ... [more ▼]

We evaluated the efficacy of two nociceptive tests, the hot water (HWT) and the foot pressure tests (FPT), and one non-nociceptive test (Semmes-Weinstein test, SWT) in assessing skin sensitivity in conscious Japanese quail. All stimuli elicited a reflex-like, strongly reproducible response. Responses in the HWT and FPT were identified as typical nocifensive flight-fight behavior. In untreated birds, these responses occurred at temperatures and forces described previously as noxious. In the SWT, two responses were observed: a slight ruffling of the cloacal gland feathers due to the stimulation of the cloacal gland, and a brief extension of the limbs due to the stimulation of the ilium or pectoral apterium. These reactions occurred at intensities recognized as innocuous. Morphine significantly altered the response latency and threshold in the HWT and FPT, but had no effect in the SWT. However, the SWT response threshold was significantly increased by local application of xylocaine. Taken together, the pattern of the responses, the intensities and the effects of morphine and xylocaine allowed to distinguish between nociceptive and non-nociceptive tests. They also demonstrate the efficacy of these tests to evaluate skin sensitivity in quail and to assess its modulation by chemical factors that affect somatosensory processes. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved. [less ▲]

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See detailInteractions between aromatase (estrogen synthase) and dopamine in the control of male sexual behavior in quail
Balthazart, Jacques ULg; Baillien, M.; Ball, G. F.

in Comparative Biochemistry & Physiology Part B (2002), 132(1), 37-55

In male quail, like in other vertebrates including rodents, testosterone acting especially through its estrogenic metabolites is necessary for the activation of male sexual behavior. Also, the ... [more ▼]

In male quail, like in other vertebrates including rodents, testosterone acting especially through its estrogenic metabolites is necessary for the activation of male sexual behavior. Also, the administration of dopamine agonists and antagonists profoundly influences male sexual behavior. How the steroid-sensitive neural network and dopamine interact physiologically, remains largely unknown. It is often implicitly assumed that testosterone or its metabolite estradiol, stimulates male sexual behavior via the modification of dopaminergic transmission. We have now identified in quail two possible ways in which dopamine could potentially affect sexual behavior by modulating the aromatization of testosterone into an estrogen. One is a long-acting mechanism that presumably involves the modification of dopaminergic transmission followed by the alteration of the genomic expression of aromatase. The other is a more rapid mechanism that does not appear to be dopamine receptor-mediated and may involve a direct interaction of dopamine with aromatase (possibly via substrate competition). We review here the experimental data supporting the existence of these controls of aromatase activity by dopamine and discuss the possible contribution of these controls to the activation of male sexual behavior. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Inc. All rights reserved. [less ▲]

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See detailThe origin of catecholaminergic inputs to the song control nucleus RA in canaries
Appeltants, D.; Ball, G. F.; Balthazart, Jacques ULg

in Neuroreport (2002), 13(5), 649-653

Song control nuclei in oscines receive dense catecholaminergic inputs but their anatomical origin is poorly understood. We analyzed catecholaminergic inputs to the nucleus robustus archistriatalis (RA) in ... [more ▼]

Song control nuclei in oscines receive dense catecholaminergic inputs but their anatomical origin is poorly understood. We analyzed catecholaminergic inputs to the nucleus robustus archistriatalis (RA) in canaries by retrograde tract-tracing combined with immunocytochemistry for tyrosine hydroxylase. In both sexes, dopaminergic inputs to RA come mostly from the A1 1 (mesencephalic central gray) and A10 (area ventralis of Tsai) cell groups but the locus coeruleus and subcoeruleus (A6) also send noradrenergic projections to RA. No input originates in the hypothalamic and in the A5 to A1 catecholaminergic groups. These findings and previous work on the high vocal center (HVc) indicate that the two major nuclei of the motor pathway controlling song production (RA and HVc) receive catecholaminergic inputs of similar origins. [less ▲]

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See detailNeuroendocrinology of song behavior and avian brain plasticity: Multiple sites of action of sex steroid hormones
Ball, G. F.; Riters, L. V.; Balthazart, Jacques ULg

in Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology (2002), 23(2), 137-178

Seasonal changes in the brain of songbirds are one of the most dramatic examples of naturally occuring neuroplasticity that have been described in any vertebrate species. In males of temperate-zone ... [more ▼]

Seasonal changes in the brain of songbirds are one of the most dramatic examples of naturally occuring neuroplasticity that have been described in any vertebrate species. In males of temperate-zone songbird species, the volumes of several telencephalic nuclei that control song behavior are significantly larger in the spring than in the fall. These increases in volume are correlated with high rates of singing and high concentrations of testosterone in the plasma. Several song nuclei express either androgen receptors or estrogen receptors, therefore it is possible that testosterone acting via estrogenic or androgenic metabolites regulates song behavior by seasonally modulating the morphology of these song control nuclei. However, the causal links among these variables have not been established. Dissociations among high concentrations of testosterone, enlarged song nuclei, and high rates of singing behavior have been observed. Singing behavior itself can promote cellular changes associated with increases in the volume of the song control nuclei. Also, testosterone may stimulate song behavior by acting in brain regions outside of the song control system such as in the preoptic area or in catecholamine cell groups in the brainstem. Thus testosterone effects on neuroplasticity in the song system may be indirect in that behavioral activity stimulated by testosterone acting in sites that promote male sexual behavior could in turn promote morphological changes in the song system. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science (USA). [less ▲]

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See detailDistribution of aromatase immunoreactivity in the forebrain of red-sided garter snakes at the beginning of the winter dormancy
Krohmer, R. W.; Bieganski, G. J.; Baleckaitis, D. D. et al

in Journal of Chemical Neuroanatomy (2002), 23(1), 59-71

Until recently, it has been difficult to identify the exact location of aromatase containing cells in the brain. The development of new antibodies has provided a sensitive tool to analyze the distribution ... [more ▼]

Until recently, it has been difficult to identify the exact location of aromatase containing cells in the brain. The development of new antibodies has provided a sensitive tool to analyze the distribution of aromatase immunoreactive (ARO-ir) material at a cellular level of resolution. In the present study we examined, for the first time, the distribution of ARO-ir cells in the brain of a reptile, the red-sided garter snake, at the beginning of the winter dormancy. ARO-ir cells were found at all rostro-caudal levels in the red-sided garter snake brain. Although weakly stained cells were distributed throughout the brain, more intensely immunoreactive cells were primarily concentrated in the preoptic area, anterior hypothalamus, septum and nucleus sphericus. Although androgens are elevated upon emergence from hibernation in the male red-sided garter snake, initiation of courtship behavior appears to be independent of direct androgen control. To date, the only known stimulus found to initiate courtship is a period of low temperature dormancy followed by exposure to warm temperatures. Circumstantial data, however, suggest an indirect role in the activation of male copulatory behavior for estrogenic metabolites of testosterone produced in the brain by aromatization during the winter dormancy. This study provides the first documentation of the distribution of ARO-ir cells in a reptilian species and demonstrates that while the aromatase enzyme occurs in most regions of the brain, the ARO-ir cells that appear to contain the highest concentration of enzyme are clustered in brain areas classically associated with the control of courtship behavior and mating in vertebrates. These data are consistent with the idea that estrogens locally produced in the brain may participate in some way to the activation of sexual behavior in this species also. This notion should now be experimentally tested by analyzing annual changes in aromatase activity and immunoreactivity and assessing the effects of pharmacological blockade of the enzyme activity at different times of the year. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved. [less ▲]

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See detailSeasonal changes in the songbird brain are modulated by song performance via testosterone-dependent and independent action
Sartor, Jennifer J; Charlier, Thierry ULg; Pytte, Caroline L et al

Poster (2002)

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See detailConverging evidence that song performance modulates seasonal changes in the avian song control system
Sartor, Jennifer J; Charlier, Thierry ULg; Pytte, Caroline L et al

Poster (2002)

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See detailSex differences in the distribution of the steroid receptor-coactivator-1 in the canary brain
Charlier, Thierry ULg; Ball, Gregory F; Balthazart, Jacques ULg

in Hormones & Behavior (2002), 41

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See detailSteroid receptor coactivator SRC-1 exhibits high expression in steroid-sensitive brain areas regulating reproductive behaviors in the quail brain.
Charlier, Thierry ULg; Lakaye, Bernard ULg; Ball, Gregory F et al

in Neuroendocrinology (2002), 76(5), 297-315

The steroid receptor coactivator SRC-1 modulates ligand-dependent transactivation of several nuclear receptors, including the receptors for sex steroid hormones. Reducing the expression of SRC-1 by ... [more ▼]

The steroid receptor coactivator SRC-1 modulates ligand-dependent transactivation of several nuclear receptors, including the receptors for sex steroid hormones. Reducing the expression of SRC-1 by injection of specific antisense oligonucleotides markedly inhibits the effects of estrogens of the sexual differentiation of brain and behavior in rats and inhibits the activation of female sexual behavior in adult female rats. SRC-1 thus appears to be involved in both the development and activation of sexual behavior. In the Japanese quail brain, we amplified by RT-PCR a 3,411-bp fragment extending from the HLH domain to the activating domain-2 of the protein. The quail SRC-1 is closely related to the mammalian (m) SRC-1 and contains a high proportion of GC nucleotides (62.5%). Its amino acid sequence presents 70% identity with mammalian SRC-1 and contains the three conserved LXXLL boxes involved in the interaction with nuclear receptors. In both males and females, RT-PCR demonstrates a similarly high level of expression in the telencephalon, diencephalon, optic lobes, brain stem, spinal cord, pituitary, liver, kidney, adrenal gland, heart, lung, gonads and gonoducts. Males express significantly higher levels of SRC-1 in the preoptic area-hypothalamus than females. In both sexes, lower levels of expression are observed in the cerebellum and muscles. In situ hybridization utilizing a mixture of four digoxigenin-labeled oligonucleotides confirms at the cellular level the widespread distribution of SRC-1 mRNA in the brain and a particularly dense expression in steroid-sensitive areas that play a key role in the control of male sexual behavior. These data confirm the presence and describe for the first time the SRC-1 distribution in the brain of an avian species. They confirm its broad, nearly ubiquitous, distribution in the entire body including the brain as could be expected for a coactivator that regulates to the action of many nuclear receptors. However this distribution is heterogeneous in the brain and sexually differentiated in at least some areas. The very dense expression of SRC-1 in limbic and mesencephalic nuclei that are associated with the control of male sexual behavior is consistent with the notion that this coactivator plays a significant role in the activation of this behavior. [less ▲]

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See detailIn vivo manganese-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging reveals connections and functional properties of the songbird vocal control system
Van der Linden, A.; Verhoye, M.; Van Meir, V. et al

in Neuroscience (2002), 112(2), 467-474

Injection of manganese (Mn2+), a paramagnetic tract tracing agent and calcium analogue, into the high vocal center of starlings labeled within a few hours the nucleus robustus archistriatalis and area X ... [more ▼]

Injection of manganese (Mn2+), a paramagnetic tract tracing agent and calcium analogue, into the high vocal center of starlings labeled within a few hours the nucleus robustus archistriatalis and area X as observed by in vivo magnetic resonance imaging. Structures highlighted by Mn2+ accumulation assumed the expected tri-dimensional shape of the nucleus robustus archistriatalis and area X as identified by classical histological or neurochemical methods. The volume of these nuclei could be accurately calculated by segmentation of the areas highlighted by Mn2+. Besides confirming previously established volumetric sex differences, Mn2+ uptake into these nuclei revealed new functional sex differences affecting Mn2+ transport. A faster transport was observed in males than in females and different relative amounts of Mn2+ were transported to nucleus robustus archistriatalis and area X in males as compared to females. This new in vivo approach, allowing repeated measures, opens new vistas to study the remarkable seasonal plasticity in size and activity of song-control nuclei and correlate neuronal activity with behavior. It also provides new insights on in vivo axonal transport and neuronal activity in song-control nuclei of oscines. (C) 2002 IBRO. Published by Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved. [less ▲]

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See detailEffects of lesions of nucleus taeniae on appetitive and consummatory aspects of male sexual behavior in Japanese quail
Absil, Philippe ULg; Braquenier, Jean-Baptiste ULg; Balthazart, Jacques ULg et al

in Brain, Behavior & Evolution (2002), 60(1), 13-35

Neurochemical, hodological and functional criteria suggest that the nucleus taeniae and parts of the adjacent archistriatum represent the avian homologue of parts of the mammalian amygdaloid complex. It ... [more ▼]

Neurochemical, hodological and functional criteria suggest that the nucleus taeniae and parts of the adjacent archistriatum represent the avian homologue of parts of the mammalian amygdaloid complex. It has been proposed in particular that the nucleus taeniae is the homologue of the mammalian medial amygdala. In male quail, relatively large lesions to the posterior/medial archistriatum selectively decrease the expression of appetitive sexual behavior in a manner reminiscent of similar manipulations involving the medial amygdala in mammals. We investigated the effects of discrete lesions restricted to nucleus taeniae and of lesions to an adjacent part of the archistriaturn (pars intermedium ventralis, Alv) on the expression of appetitive (ASB) and consummatory (CSB) aspects of male sexual behavior. ASB was measured by a learned social proximity response (after copulation a male quail stands in front of a window providing visual access to a female) and by the frequency of rhythmic cloacal sphincter movements. CSB was assessed by the frequency of mount attempts (MA) and cloacal contact movements (CCM). Lesions confined to nucleus taeniae and to Alv did not influence the acquisition or the maintenance of the two responses indicative of ASB. In contrast, lesions of nucleus taeniae significantly increased the occurrence frequencies of MA and CCM when administered before the beginning of behavior testing and increased the frequency of MA only when performed on sexually experienced subjects. No effect of Alv lesions could be detected. The discrepancy between these results and previous experiments in quail might reflect procedural differences, but more probably differences in locations of the lesions that were restricted in the current study to the anterior part of taeniae. Those in the Thompson study were in the posterior part of this nucleus. These findings indicate that there is a larger degree of functional heterogeneity in the nucleus taeniae than previously thought. The effects of taeniae lesions suggest that this nucleus, similar to the medial amygdala in mammals, might be implicated in the control of sexual satiety. Copyright (C) 2002 S. Karger AG, Basel. [less ▲]

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See detailPhosphorylation processes mediate rapid changes of brain aromatase activity
Balthazart, Jacques ULg; Baillien, M.; Ball, G. F.

in Journal of Steroid Biochemistry & Molecular Biology (2001), 79(1-5), 261-277

The enzyme aromatase (also called estrogen synthase) that catalyzes the transformation of testosterone (T) into estradiol plays a key limiting role in the action of T on many aspects of reproduction. The ... [more ▼]

The enzyme aromatase (also called estrogen synthase) that catalyzes the transformation of testosterone (T) into estradiol plays a key limiting role in the action of T on many aspects of reproduction. The distribution and regulation of aromatase in the quail brain has been studied by radioenzyme assays on microdissected brain areas, immunocytochemistry, RT-PCR and in situ hybridization. High levels of aromatase activity (AA) characterize the sexually dimorphic, steroid-sensitive medial preoptic nucleus (PONI), a critical site of T action and aromatization for the activation of male sexual behavior. The boundaries of the POM are clearly outlined by a dense population of aromatase-containing cells as visualized by both immunocytochemistry and in situ hybridization histochemistry. Aromatase synthesis in the POM is controlled by T and its metabolite estradiol, but estradiol receptors alpha (ERalpha) are not normally co-localized with aromatase in this brain area. Estradiol receptor beta (ERbeta) has been recently cloned in quail and localized in POM but we do not yet know whether ERbeta occurs in aromatase cells. It is therefore not known whether estrogens regulate aromatase synthesis directly or by affecting different inputs to aromatase cells as is the case with the gonadotropin releasing hormone neurons. The presence of aromatase in presynaptic boutons suggests that locally formed estrogens may exert part of their effects by non-genomic mechanisms at the membrane level. Rapid effects of estrogens in the brain that presumably take place at the neuronal membrane level have been described in other species. If fast transduction mechanisms for estrogen are available at the membrane level, this will not necessarily result in rapid changes in brain function if the availability of the ligand does not also change rapidly. We demonstrate here that AA in hypothalamic homogenates is rapidly down-regulated by exposure to conditions that enhance protein phosphorylation (addition of Ca2+, Mg2+, ATP). This inhibition is blocked by kinase inhibitors which supports the notion that phosphorylation processes are involved. A rapid (within minutes) and reversible regulation of AA is also observed in hypothalamic explants incubated in vitro and exposed to high Ca2+ levels (K+-induced depolarization, treatment by thapsigargin, by kainate, AMPA or NMDA). The local production and availability of estrogens in the brain can therefore be rapidly changed by Ca2+ based on variation in neurotransmitter activity. Locally-produced estrogens are as a consequence available for non-genomic regulation of neuronal physiology in a manner more akin to the action of a neuropeptide/neurotransmitter than previously thought. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved. [less ▲]

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See detailThe control of preoptic aromatase activity by afferent inputs in Japanese quail
Absil, Philippe ULg; Baillien, M.; Ball, G. F. et al

in Brain Research Reviews (2001), 37(1-mars Sp. Iss. SI), 38-58

This review summarizes current knowledge on the mechanisms that control aromatase activity in the quail preoptic area, a brain region that plays a key role in the control of reproduction. Aromatase and ... [more ▼]

This review summarizes current knowledge on the mechanisms that control aromatase activity in the quail preoptic area, a brain region that plays a key role in the control of reproduction. Aromatase and aromatase mRNA synthesis in the preoptic area are enhanced by testosterone and its metabolite estradiol, but estradiol receptors of the alpha subtype are not regularly colocalized with aromatase. Estradiol receptors of the beta subtype are present in the preoptic area but it is not yet known whether these receptors are colocalized with aromatase. The regulation by estrogen of aromatase activity may be, in part, trans-synaptically mediated, in a manner that is reminiscent of the ways in which steroids control the activity of gonadotropic hormone releasing hormone neurons, Aromatase-immunoreactive neurons are surrounded by dense networks of vasotocin-immunoreactive and tyrosine hydroxylase-immunoreactive fibers and punctate structures. These inputs are in part steroid-sensitive and could therefore mediate the effects of steroids on aromatase activity. In vivo pharmacological experiments indicate that catecholaminergic depletions significantly affect aromatase activity presumably by modulating aromatase transcription. In addition, in vitro studies on brain homogenates or on preoptic-hypothalamic explants show that aromatase activity can be rapidly modulated by a variety of dopaminergic compounds. These effects do not appear to be mediated by the membrane dopamine receptors and could involve changes in the phosphorylation state of the enzyme, Together, these results provide converging evidence for a direct control of aromatase activity by catecholamines consistent with the anatomical data indicating the presence of a catecholaminergic innervation of aromatase cells. These dopamine-induced changes in aromatase activity are observed after several hours or days and presumably result from changes in aromatase transcription but rapid non-genomic controls have also been identified. The potential significance of these processes for the physiology of reproduction is critically evaluated. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science BY. All rights reserved. [less ▲]

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See detailSteroid-induced plasticity in the sexually dimorphic vasotocinergic innervation of the avian brain: behavioral implications
Panzica, G. C.; Aste, N.; Castagna, C. et al

in Brain Research Reviews (2001), 37(1-mars Sp. Iss. SI), 178-200

Vasotocin (VT, the antidiuretic hormone of birds) is synthesized by diencephalic magnocellular neurons projecting to the neurohypophysis. In addition, in male quail and in other oscine and non-oscine ... [more ▼]

Vasotocin (VT, the antidiuretic hormone of birds) is synthesized by diencephalic magnocellular neurons projecting to the neurohypophysis. In addition, in male quail and in other oscine and non-oscine birds, a sexually dimorphic group of VT-immunoreactive (ir) parvocellular neurons is located in a region homologous to the mammalian nucleus of the stria terminalis, pars medialis (BSTm) and in the medial preoptic nucleus (POM). These cells are not visible in females. VT-ir fibers are present in many diencephalic and extradiencephalic locations. Quantitative morphometric analyses demonstrate that, in quail, these elements are expressed in a sexually dimorphic manner (males>females) in regions involved in the control of different aspects of reproduction: i.e., the POM (copulatory behavior), the lateral septum (secretion of gonadotropin-releasing hormone [GnRH]), the nucleus intercollicularis (control of vocalizations), and the locus coeruleus (the main noradrenergic center of the avian brain). In many of these regions,VT-ir fibers are closely related to aromatase-ir, GnRH-ir, or estrogen receptor-expressing neurons. This dimorphism has an organizational nature: administration of estradiol-benzoate to quail embryos (a treatment that abolishes male sexual behavior) results in a dramatic decrease of the VT-immunoreactivity in all sexually dimorphic regions of the male quail brain. Conversely, the inhibition of estradiol (E,) synthesis during embryonic life (a treatment that stimulates the expression of male copulatory behavior in adult testosterone (T)-treated females) results in a male-like distribution of VT-ir cells and fibers. Castration markedly decreases the immunoreactivity in both the VT-immunopositive elements of the BSTm and the innervation of the SL and POM, whereas T-replacement therapy restores the VT immunoreactivity to a level typical of intact birds. These changes reflect modifications of VT mRNA concentrations (and probably synthesis) as demonstrated by in situ hybridization and they are paralleled by similar changes in male copulatory behavior (absent in castrated male quail, fully expressed in CX+T males). The aromatization of T into estradiol (E-2) also controls VT expression and, in parallel limits the activation of male sexual behavior by T. In castrated male quail, the restoration by T of the VT immunoreactivity in POM, BSTm and lateral septum could be fully mimicked by a treatment with E-2, but the androgen 5alpha-dihydrotestosterone (DHT) had absolutely no effect on the VT immunoreactivity in these conditions. At the doses used in this study, DHT also did not synergize with E, to enhance the density of VT immunoreactive structures. Systemic or i.c.v. injections of VT markedly inhibit the expression of all aspects of male sexual behavior. VT, presumably, does not simply represent one step in the biochemical cascade of events that is induced by T in the brain and leads to the expression of male sexual behavior. Androgens and estrogens presumably affect reproductive behavior both directly, by acting on steroid-sensitive neurons in the preoptic area, and indirectly, by modulating peptidergic (specifically vasotocinergic) inputs to this and other areas. The respective contribution of these two types of actions and their interaction deserves further analysis. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science BY All rights reserved. [less ▲]

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