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See detailAndrogens and estrogens synergistically regulate the expression of doublecortin and enhance neuronal recruitment in the song system of adult female canaries.
Yamamura, Takashi; Barker, Jennifer ULg; Balthazart, Jacques ULg et al

in Journal of Neuroscience (2011)

Vocal control nuclei in songbirds display seasonal changes in volume that are regulated by testosterone (T) and its androgenic (5α-dihydrotestosterone; DHT) or estrogenic metabolites (17β-estradiol; E2 ... [more ▼]

Vocal control nuclei in songbirds display seasonal changes in volume that are regulated by testosterone (T) and its androgenic (5α-dihydrotestosterone; DHT) or estrogenic metabolites (17β-estradiol; E2). In male canaries, T regulates expression of the microtubule-associated protein doublecortin (DCX), a marker of neurogenesis. We examined the effect of T and its two metabolites alone or in combination on DCX expression in adult female canaries. Treatment with T or with DHT+E2 increased HVC volume and neuron numbers as well as the total numbers of fusiform (migrating) and round (differentiating) DCX neurons in the nucleus but generally not in adjacent areas. DHT or E2 alone did not increase these measures but increased the density of fusiform DCX cells per section. Similar results were observed in Area X although some effects did not reach significance presumably because plasticity in X is mediated transynaptically and follows HVC changes with some delay. There was no effect of any treatment on the total number of neurons in Area X and no change in DCX cell densities was detected in other parts of the nidopallium nor in LMAN. DHT and E2 by themselves thus increase density of DCX cells migrating through HVC but are not sufficient in isolation to induce the recruitment of these newborn neurons in the nucleus. These effects are generally not observed in the rest of the nidopallium implying that steroids only act on the attraction and recruitment of new neurons in HVC without having any major effects on their production at the ventricle wall. [less ▲]

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See detailAuditory forebrain activation in the female canary is modulated by male song quality.
Barker, Jennifer ULg; Monbureau, Marie; Leboucher, Gerard et al

Poster (2010, November 17)

One of the chief functions of birdsong is to attract and stimulate females. In canaries (Serinus canaria), specific phrases (“A” phrases) sung by males have been identified as especially attractive for ... [more ▼]

One of the chief functions of birdsong is to attract and stimulate females. In canaries (Serinus canaria), specific phrases (“A” phrases) sung by males have been identified as especially attractive for females. These phrases unite a number of characteristics that are particularly difficult to combine, including large frequency bandwidth, high repetition rate and multiple-note syllables. Females exposed to “A” phrases produce more copulation displays and deposit more testosterone into their eggs. However, the neuroendocrine pathway underlying the translation of song audition to changes in testosterone deposition in yolks is not understood. Increased expression of several immediate early genes including c-fos and zenk (also called egr-1 in mammals) in other songbird species has been observed in the auditory forebrain of females hearing attractive song, and such differential activation may represent a first step in signal processing linking auditory input to egg testosterone deposition. Female canaries in breeding condition were exposed to 60 minutes of “sexy” song with a preponderance of “A” phrases, “non-sexy” song lacking “A” phrases, or white noise. Thirty minutes after the end of song playback, brains were collected, fixed in acrolein and sectioned and stained by immunohistochemistry for quantification of the Fos protein, an indicator of neuronal activity, in several regions involved in audition and auditory processing. The endocrine condition of each female was determined by measuring ovarian and oviduct weight at the time of autopsy. In the caudomedial mesopallium (CMM), Fos expression was higher in females that had heard sexy song than those that heard non-sexy song or white noise. Expression of Fos in the caudomedial nidopallium (NCM), the nucleus spiriformis medialis (SPM), the nucleus ovoidalis (OV), and the song nucleus HVC was unaffected by song quality. Thus differential auditory processing in the CMM may be an initial stage in the assessment by a female of song information to differential testosterone deposition in the egg. [less ▲]

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See detailTestosterone increases cell turnover in song nucleus HVC and increases cell recruitment into Area X of adult female canaries.
Barker, Jennifer ULg; Yamamura, Takashi; Balthazart, Jacques ULg et al

Poster (2010, May)

In songbirds, song control nuclei such as HVC and Area X, show seasonal changes in volume that are regulated, at least in part, by the action of gonadal testosterone (T) and its metabolites. These changes ... [more ▼]

In songbirds, song control nuclei such as HVC and Area X, show seasonal changes in volume that are regulated, at least in part, by the action of gonadal testosterone (T) and its metabolites. These changes in volume are a result of changes in cell size, dendritic branching and, in HVC, the incorporation of newborn neurons. Doublecortin (DCX) is a microtubule-associated protein expressed during development and in adulthood in post-mitotic migrating and differentiating neurons in mammals. Our previous studies in male canaries demonstrated that DCX is expressed in BrdU-positive neurons consistent with DCX being a marker of neurogenesis in adult canaries. Testosterone induces marked increases in song nuclei volume in adult female canaries making these nuclei more male-like. Within the songbird brain, T can be metabolized to 5 alpha-dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and 17 beta-estradiol (E2). We found previously that both these metabolites are required to increase the volume of song nuclei in adult female canaries, but the cellular basis of this adult neuroplasticity is not well understood. Within HVC, the number of DCX-immunoreactive (ir) cells can be increased by photostimulation or treatment with T, but the effects of T and its metabolites on cell death in the songbird brain had not yet been elucidated. We therefore examined the effect of DHT and E2 on DCX expression and cell death in the song nuclei of adult female canaries. Intact female canaries were implanted with Silastic tubing containing crystalline T, DHT, E2, or a combination of DHT+E2. Control animals received empty implants. All birds were kept under early spring-like photoperiodic conditions (11L:13D) for 3 weeks. In HVC, the total number of DCX-ir cells was increased by treatment with T or DHT+E2 as compared to control birds, but was not affected by treatment with DHT or E2 alone. The number of pyknotic cells observed in the HVC was also increased by T but not by its metabolites. In Area X, the total number of DCX-ir cells was increased by treatment with T or DHT+E2, but the number of pyknotic cells was unaffected by hormone treatment. These results suggest that T enhances cellular turnover in the HVC (migration into, and cell death within, HVC), but affects only recruitment of new neurons into Area X. [less ▲]

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See detailSex steroid-induced neuroplasticity and behavioral activation in birds
Balthazart, Jacques ULg; Charlier, Thierry ULg; Barker, Jennifer ULg et al

in European Journal of Neuroscience (2010), 32

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