References of "Cornil, Charlotte"
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See detailRelationships between rapid changes in local aromatase activity and estradiol concentrations in male and female quail brain.
Dickens, M. J.; de Bournonville, C.; Balthazart, Jacques ULg et al

in Hormones and behavior (2014), 65(2), 154-164

Estradiol-17beta (E2) synthesized in the brain plays a critical role in the activation of sexual behavior in many vertebrate species. Because E2 concentrations depend on aromatization of testosterone ... [more ▼]

Estradiol-17beta (E2) synthesized in the brain plays a critical role in the activation of sexual behavior in many vertebrate species. Because E2 concentrations depend on aromatization of testosterone, changes in aromatase enzymatic activity (AA) are often utilized as a proxy to describe E2 concentrations. Utilizing two types of stimuli (sexual interactions and acute restraint stress) that have been demonstrated to reliably alter AA within minutes in opposite directions (sexual interactions=decrease, stress=increase), we tested in Japanese quail whether rapid changes in AA are paralleled by changes in E2 concentrations in discrete brain areas. In males, E2 in the pooled medial preoptic nucleus/medial portion of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (POM/BST) positively correlated with AA following sexual interactions. However, following acute stress, E2 decreased significantly (approximately 2-fold) in the male POM/BST despite a significant increase in AA. In females, AA positively correlated with E2 in both the POM/BST and mediobasal hypothalamus supporting a role for local, as opposed to ovarian, production regulating brain E2 concentrations. In addition, correlations of individual E2 in POM/BST and measurements of female sexual behavior suggested a role for local E2 synthesis in female receptivity. These data demonstrate that local E2 in the male brain changes in response to stimuli on a time course suggestive of potential non-genomic effects on brain and behavior. Overall, this study highlights the complex mechanisms regulating local E2 concentrations including rapid stimulus-driven changes in production and stress-induced changes in catabolism. [less ▲]

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See detailMechanism of the medium-duration afterhyperpolarization in rat serotonergic neurons
Alix, Philippe ULg; Venkatesan, Kumar; Scuvée-Moreau, Jacqueline et al

in European Journal of Neuroscience (2014), 39(2), 186-196

Most serotonergic neurons display a prominent medium-duration afterhyperpolarization (mAHP), which is mediated by small conductance Ca2+-activated K+ (SK) channels. Recent ex vivo and in vivo experiments ... [more ▼]

Most serotonergic neurons display a prominent medium-duration afterhyperpolarization (mAHP), which is mediated by small conductance Ca2+-activated K+ (SK) channels. Recent ex vivo and in vivo experiments have suggested that SK channel blockade increases the firing rate and/or bursting in these neurons. The purpose of this study was therefore to characterize the source of Ca2+ which activates the mAHP channels in serotonergic neurons. In voltage clamp experiments, an outward current was recorded at -60 mV after a depolarizing pulse to + 100 mV. A supra-maximal concentration of the SK channel blockers apamin or (-)- bicuculline methiodide blocked this outward current. This current was also sensitive to the broad Ca2+ channel blocker Co2+ and was partially blocked by both ω-conotoxin and mibefradil, which are blockers of N-type and T-type Ca2+ channels, respectively. Neither blockers of other voltage-gated Ca2+ channels nor DBHQ, an inhibitor of Ca2+-induced Ca2+ release, had any effect on the SK current. [less ▲]

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See detailEstrogens control female sexual motivation and receptivity in quail.
de Bournonville, Catherine ULg; Ball, Gregory, F.; Balthazart, Jacques ULg et al

Poster (2013, November 10)

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See detailNeuroestrogens Rapidly Regulate Sexual Motivation But Not Performance
Seredynski, Aurore ULg; Balthazart, Jacques ULg; Christophe, Virginie et al

in Journal of Neuroscience (2013), 33(1), 164-174

Estrogens exert pleiotropic effects on reproductive traits, which include differentiation and activation of reproductive behaviors and the control of the secretion of gonadotropins. Estrogens also ... [more ▼]

Estrogens exert pleiotropic effects on reproductive traits, which include differentiation and activation of reproductive behaviors and the control of the secretion of gonadotropins. Estrogens also profoundly affect non-reproductive traits, such as cognition and neuroprotection. These effects are usually attributed to nuclear receptor binding and subsequent regulation of target gene transcription. Estrogens also affect neuronal activity and cell-signaling pathways via faster, membrane-initiated events. How these two types of actions that operate in distinct timescales interact in the control of complex behavioral responses is poorly understood. Here, we show that the central administration of estradiol rapidly increases the expression of sexual motivation, as assessed by several measures of sexual motivation produced in response to the visual presentation of a female but not sexual performance in male Japanese quail. This effect is mimicked by membrane-impermeable analogs of estradiol, indicating that it is initiated at the cell membrane. Conversely, blocking the action of estrogens or their synthesis by a single intracerebroventricular injection of estrogen receptor antagonists or aromatase inhibitors, respectively, decreases sexual motivation within minutes without affecting performance. The same steroid has thus evolved complementary mechanisms to regulate different behavioral components (motivation vs performance) in distinct temporal domains (long- vs short-term) so that diverse reproductive activities can be properly coordinated to improve reproductive fitness. Given the pleiotropic effects exerted by estrogens, other responses controlled by these steroids might also depend on a slow genomic regulation of neuronal plasticity underlying behavioral activation and an acute control of motivation to engage in behavior. [less ▲]

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See detailRapid control of reproductive behaviour by locally synthesised oestrogens: focus on aromatase.
Cornil, Charlotte ULg; Seredynski, Aurore ULg; de Bournonville, Catherine ULg et al

in Journal of Neuroendocrinology (2013), 25(11), 1070-8

Oestrogens activate nucleus- and membrane-initiated signalling. Nucleus-initiated events control a wide array of physiological and behavioural responses. These effects generally take place within ... [more ▼]

Oestrogens activate nucleus- and membrane-initiated signalling. Nucleus-initiated events control a wide array of physiological and behavioural responses. These effects generally take place within relatively long periods of time (several hours to days). By contrast, membrane-initiated signalling affects a multitude of cellular functions in a much shorter timeframe (seconds to minutes). However, much less is known about their functional significance. Furthermore, the origin of the oestrogens able to trigger these acute effects is rarely examined. Finally, these two distinct types of oestrogenic actions have often been studied independently such that we do not exactly know how they cooperate to control the same response. The present review presents a synthesis of recent work carried out in our laboratory that aimed to address these issues in the context of the study of male sexual behaviour in Japanese quail, which is a considered as a suitable species for tackling these issues. The first section presents data indicating that 17b-oestradiol, or its membrane impermeable analogues, acutely enhances measures of male sexual motivation but does not affect copulatory behaviour. These effects depend on the activation of membrane-initiated events and local oestrogen production. The second part of this review discusses the regulation of brain oestrogen synthesis through post-translational modifications of the enzyme aromatase. Initially discovered in vitro, these rapid and reversible enzymatic modulations occur in vivo following variations in the social and environment context and therefore provide a mechanism of acute regulation of local oestrogen provision with a spatial and time resolution compatible with the rapid effects observed on male sexual behaviour. Finally, we discuss how these distinct modes of oestrogenic action (membrane- versus nucleus-initiated) acting in different time frames (short- versus long-term) interact to control different components (motivation versus performance) of the same behavioural response and improve reproductive fitness. [less ▲]

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See detailDistinct Neuroendocrine mechanisms control neural activity underlying sex differences in sexual motivation and performance
Balthazart, Jacques ULg; Corbisier de Méaultsart, Céline; Ball, Gregory et al

in European Journal of Neuroscience (2013), 37(5), 735-42

Sexual behavior can be usefully parsed into an appetitive and a consummatory component. Both appetitive and consummatory male-typical sexual behaviors (respectively, ASB and CSB) are activated in male ... [more ▼]

Sexual behavior can be usefully parsed into an appetitive and a consummatory component. Both appetitive and consummatory male-typical sexual behaviors (respectively, ASB and CSB) are activated in male Japanese quail by testosterone (T) acting in the medial preoptic nucleus (POM), but never observed in females. This sex difference is based on a demasculinization (= organizational effect) by estradiol during embryonic life for CSB, but a differential activation by T in adulthood for ASB. Males expressing rhythmic cloacal sphincter movements (RCSMs; a form of ASB) or allowed to copulate display increased Fos expression in POM. We investigated Fos brain responses in females exposed to behavioral tests after various endocrine treat- ments. T-treated females displayed RCSM, but never copulated when exposed to another female. Accordingly they showed an increased Fos expression in POM after ASB but not CSB tests. Females treated with the aromatase inhibitor Vorozole in ovo and T in adulthood displayed both male-typical ASB and CSB, and Fos expression in POM was increased after both types of tests. Thus, the neural circuit mediating ASB is present or can develop in both sexes, but is inactive in females unless they are exposed to exogenous T. In contrast, the neural mechanism mediating CSB is not normally present in females, but can be pre- served by blocking the embryonic production of estrogens. Overall these data confirm the difference in endocrine controls and probably neural mechanisms supporting ASB and CSB in quail, and highlight the complexity of mechanisms underlying sexual differentiation of behavior. [less ▲]

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See detailRAPID MODULATION OF AROMATASE ACTIVITY IN THE VERTEBRATE BRAIN
Charlier, Thierry; Cornil, Charlotte ULg; Balthazart, Jacques ULg

in Journal of Experimental Neuroscience (2013)

Numerous steroid hormones, including 17-estradiol (E2), activate rapid and transient cellular, physiological, and behavioral changes in addition to their well-described genomic effects. Aromatase is the ... [more ▼]

Numerous steroid hormones, including 17-estradiol (E2), activate rapid and transient cellular, physiological, and behavioral changes in addition to their well-described genomic effects. Aromatase is the key-limiting enzyme in the production of estrogens, and the rapid modulation of this enzymatic activity could produce rapid changes in local E2 concentrations. The mechanisms that might mediate such rapid enzymatic changes are not fully understood but are currently under intense scrutiny. Recent studies in our laboratory indicate that brain aromatase activity is rapidly inhibited by an increase in intracellular calcium concentration resulting from potassium- induced depolarization or from the activation of glutamatergic receptors. Phosphorylating conditions also reduce aromatase activity within minutes, and this inhibition is blocked by the addition of multiple protein kinase inhibitors. This rapid modulation of aromatase activity by phosphorylating conditions is a general mechanism observed in different cell types and tissues derived from a variety of spe- cies, including human aromatase expressed in various cell lines. Phosphorylation processes affect aromatase itself and do not involve changes in aromatase protein concentration. The control of aromatase activity by multiple kinases suggests that several amino acids must be concomitantly phosphorylated to modify enzymatic activity but site-directed mutagenesis of several amino acids alone or in combination has not to date revealed the identity of the targeted residue(s). Altogether, the phosphorylation processes affecting aro- matase activity provide a new general mechanism by which the concentration of estrogens can be rapidly altered in the brain. [less ▲]

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See detailNeurochemical control of rapid stress-induced changes in brain aromatase activity
Dickens, Molly; Cornil, Charlotte ULg; Balthazart, Jacques ULg

in Journal of Neuroendocrinology (2013), 25(4), 329-39

In the male brain, the medial preoptic nucleus (POM) is known to be a critical relay for the activation of sexual behaviour, with the aromatisation of testosterone into 17b-oestradiol (E2) playing a key ... [more ▼]

In the male brain, the medial preoptic nucleus (POM) is known to be a critical relay for the activation of sexual behaviour, with the aromatisation of testosterone into 17b-oestradiol (E2) playing a key role. Acute stress has been shown to differentially modulate the aromatase enzyme in this and other brain nuclei in a sex-specific manner. In POM specifically, stress induces increases in aromatase activity (AA) that are both rapid and reversible. How the physiological processes initiated during an acute stress response mediate sex- and nuclei- specific changes in AA and which stress response hormones are involved remains to be determined. By examining the relative effects of corticosterone (CORT), arginine vasotocin (AVT, the avian homologue to arginine vasopressin) and corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRF), the present study aimed to define the hormone profile regulating stress-induced increases in AA in the POM. We found that CORT, AVT and CRF all appear to play some role in these changes in the male brain. In addition, these effects occur in a targeted manner, such that modulation of the enzyme by these hormones only occurs in the POM rather than in all aromatase-expressing nuclei. Similarly, in the female brain, the experimental effects were restricted to the POM but only CRF was capable of inducing the stress-like increases in AA. These data further demonstrate the high degree of specificity (nuclei-, sex- and hormone-specific effects) in this system, highlighting the complexity of the stress–aromatase link and suggesting modes through which the nongenomic modulation of this enzyme can result in targeted, rapid changes in local oestrogen concentrations. [less ▲]

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See detailDynamic changes in brain aromatase activity following sexual interactions in males: Where, when and why?
de Bournonville, Catherine ULg; Dickens, Molly J.; Ball, Gregory F. et al

in Psychoneuroendocrinology (2013), 38(6), 789-99

It is increasingly recognized that estrogens produce rapid and transient effects at many neural sites ultimately impacting physiological and behavioral endpoints. The ability of estrogens to acutely ... [more ▼]

It is increasingly recognized that estrogens produce rapid and transient effects at many neural sites ultimately impacting physiological and behavioral endpoints. The ability of estrogens to acutely regulate cellular processes implies that their concentration should also be rapidly fine-tuned. Accordingly, rapid changes in the catalytic activity of aromatase, the limiting enzyme for estrogen synthesis, have been identified that could serve as a regulatory mechanism of local estrogen concentrations. However, the precise anatomical localization, time-course, triggering stimuli and functional significance of these enzymatic changes in vivo are not well understood. To address these issues as to where, when and why aromatase activity (AA) rapidly changes after sexual interactions, AA was assayed in six populations of aromatase-expressing cells microdissected from the brain of male quail that experienced varying durations of visual exposure to or copulation with a female. Sexual interactions resulted in a rapid AA inhibition. This inhibition occurred in specific brain regions (including the medial preoptic nucleus), in a context-dependent fashion and time-scale suggestive of post-translational modifications of the enzyme. Interestingly, the enzymatic fluctuations occurring in the preoptic area followed rather than preceded copulation and were tied specifically to the female's presence. This pattern of enzymatic changes suggests that rapid estrogen effects are important during the motivational phase of the behavior to trigger physiological events essential to activate mate search and copulation. [less ▲]

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See detailCellular mechanisms controlling rapid changes in brain aromatase activity
Charlier, Thierry; Cornil, Charlotte ULg; Ball, Gregory et al

in Balthazart, Jacques; Ball, Gregory (Eds.) Brain aromatase, estrogens and behavior (2012)

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See detailRapid modulation of aromatase activity by social and environmental stimuli in quail
Cornil, Charlotte ULg; Dickens, Molly; BAll, Gregory et al

in Balthazart, Jacques; Ball, Gregory (Eds.) Brain aromatase, estrogens and behavior (2012)

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See detailRapid control of male typical behaviors by brain-derived estrogens
Cornil, Charlotte ULg; Ball, Gregory F; Balthazart, Jacques ULg

in Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology (2012)

Beside their genomic mode of action, estrogens also activate a variety of cellular signaling pathways through non-genomic mechanisms. Until recently, little was known regarding the functional significance ... [more ▼]

Beside their genomic mode of action, estrogens also activate a variety of cellular signaling pathways through non-genomic mechanisms. Until recently, little was known regarding the functional significance of such actions in males and the mechanism that control local estrogen concentration with a spatial and time resolution compatible with these non-genomic actions had rarely been examined. Here, we review evidence that estrogens rapidly modulate a variety of behaviors in male vertebrates. Then, we present in vitro work supporting the existence of a control mechanism of local brain estrogen synthesis by aromatase along with in vivo evidence that rapid changes in aromatase activity also occur in a region-specific manner in response to changes in the social or environmental context. Finally, we suggest that the brain estrogen provision may also play a significant role in females. Together these data bolster the hypothesis that brain-derived estrogens should be considered as neuromodulators. [less ▲]

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See detailAcute and Specific Modulation of Presynaptic Aromatization in the Vertebrate Brain
Cornil, Charlotte ULg; Leung, Cary H.; Pletcher, Eric R. et al

in Endocrinology (2012), 153(6), 2562-7

Estrogens affect a diversity of peripheral and central physiological endpoints. Traditionally, estrogens were thought to be peripherally derived transcription regulators (i.e. slow acting). More recently ... [more ▼]

Estrogens affect a diversity of peripheral and central physiological endpoints. Traditionally, estrogens were thought to be peripherally derived transcription regulators (i.e. slow acting). More recently, we have learned that estrogens are also synthesized in neuronal cell bodies and synaptic terminals and have potent membrane effects, which modulate brain function. However, the mechanisms that control local steroid concentrations in a temporal and spatial resolution compatible with their acute actions are poorly understood. Here, using differential centrifugation followed by enzymatic assay, we provide evidence that estrogen synthesis within synaptosomes can be modulated more dramatically by phosphorylating conditions, relative to microsomes. This is the first demonstration of a rapid mechanism that may alter steroid concentrations within the synapse and may represent a potential mechanism for the acute control of neurophysiology and behavior. [less ▲]

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See detailBrain aromatase and circulating corticosterone are rapidly regulated by combined acute stress and sexual interaction in a sex specific manner.
Dickens, Molly J.; Balthazart, Jacques ULg; Cornil, Charlotte ULg

in Journal of Neuroendocrinology (2012), 24(10), 1322-34

Neural production of 17β-oestradiol via aromatisation of testosterone may play a critical role in rapid, non-genomic regulation of physiological and behavioural processes. In brain nuclei implicated in ... [more ▼]

Neural production of 17β-oestradiol via aromatisation of testosterone may play a critical role in rapid, non-genomic regulation of physiological and behavioural processes. In brain nuclei implicated in the control of sexual behaviour, sexual or stressfull stimuli induce respectively a rapid inhibition or increase in preoptic aromatase activity (AA). Here, we tested quail that were either non-stressed or acutely stressed (15 min restraint) immediately prior to sexual interaction (5 min) with stressed or non-stressed partners. We measured nuclei-specific AA changes, corresponding behavioural output, fertilisation rates and corticosterone (CORT) concentrations. In males, sexual interaction rapidly reversed stress-induced increases of AA in the medial preoptic nucleus (POM). This time scale (<5min) highlights the dynamic potential of the aromatase system to integrate input from stimuli that drive AA in opposing directions. Moreover, acute stress had minimal effects on male behaviour suggesting that the input from the sexual stimuli on POM AA may actively preserve sexual behaviour despite stress exposure. We also found distinct sex differences in contextual physiological responses: while males did not show any effect of partner status, females responded to both their stress exposure and the male partner's stress exposure at the level of circulating CORT and AA. In addition, fertilisation rates and female CORT correlated with the male partner's exhibition of sexually aggressive behaviour suggesting that female perception of the male can affect their physiology as much as direct stress. Overall, male reproduction appears relatively simple - sexual stimuli, irrespective of stress, drives major neural changes including rapid reversal of stress-induced changes of AA. In contrast, female reproduction appears more nuanced and context specific, with subjects responding physiologically and behaviourally to stress, the male partner's stress exposure, and female-directed male behaviour. [less ▲]

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See detailSex differences in brain aromatase activity: genomic and non-genomic controls
Balthazart, Jacques ULg; Charlier, Thierry ULg; Cornil, Charlotte ULg et al

in Frontiers in Endocrinology (2011), 2

Aromatization of testosterone into estradiol in the preoptic area plays a critical role in the activation of male copulation in quail and in many other vertebrate species. Aromatase expression in quail ... [more ▼]

Aromatization of testosterone into estradiol in the preoptic area plays a critical role in the activation of male copulation in quail and in many other vertebrate species. Aromatase expression in quail and in other birds is higher than in rodents and other mammals, which has facilitated the study of the controls and functions of this enzyme. Over relatively long time periods (days to months), brain aromatase activity (AA), and transcription are markedly (four- to sixfold) increased by genomic actions of sex steroids. Initial work indicated that the preoptic AA is higher in males than in females and it was hypothesized that this differential production of estrogen could be a critical factor responsible for the lack of behavioral activation in females. Subsequent studies revealed, however, that this enzymatic sex difference might contribute but is not sufficient to explain the sex difference in behavior. Studies of AA, immunoreactivity, and mRNA concentrations revealed that sex differences observed when measuring enzymatic activity are not necessarily observed when one measures mRNA concentrations. Discrepancies potentially reflect post-translational controls of the enzymatic activity. AA in quail brain homogenates is rapidly inhibited by phosphorylation processes. Similar rapid inhibitions occur in hypothalamic explants maintained in vitro and exposed to agents affecting intracellular calcium concentrations or to glutamate agonists. Rapid changes in AA have also been observed in vivo following sexual interactions or exposure to short-term restraint stress and these rapid changes in estrogen production modulate expression of male sexual behaviors. These data suggest that brain estrogens display most if not all characteristics of neuromodulators if not neurotransmitters. Many questions remain however concerning the mechanisms controlling these rapid changes in estrogen production and their behavioral significance. [less ▲]

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See detailOrganizing effects of sex steroids on brain aromatase activity in quail
Cornil, Charlotte ULg; Ball, Gregory F; Balthazart, Jacques ULg et al

in PLoS ONE (2011), 6(4), 19196

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See detailHuman and Quail Aromatase Activity Is Rapidly and Reversibly Inhibited by Phosphorylating Conditions
Charlier, Thierry ULg; Harada, Nobuhiro; Balthazart, Jacques ULg et al

in Endocrinology (2011), 152(11), 4199-210

Besides their slow genomic actions, estrogens also induce rapid physiological responses. To be functionally relevant, these effects must be associated with rapid changes in local concentrations of ... [more ▼]

Besides their slow genomic actions, estrogens also induce rapid physiological responses. To be functionally relevant, these effects must be associated with rapid changes in local concentrations of estrogens. Rapid changes in aromatase activity (AA) controlled by calcium-dependent phosphorylations of the enzyme can alter in a rapid manner local estrogen concentrations, but so far this mechanism was identified only in the avian (quail) brain. We show here that AA is also rapidly down-regulated by phosphorylating conditions in quail ovary homogenates and in various cell lines transfected with human aromatase (HEK 293, Neuro2A, and C6). Enzymatic activity was also rapidly inhibited after depolarization of aromatase-expressing HEK 293 cells with 100 mm KCl, and activity was fully restored when cells returned to control conditions. Western blot analysis demonstrated that the reduction of enzymatic activity is not due to protein degradation. We next investigated by site-directed mutagenesis the potential implication in the control of AA of specific aromatase residues identified by bioinformatic analysis. Mutation of the amino acids S118, S247, S267, T462, T493, or S497 to alanine, alone or in combination, did not block the rapid inhibition of enzymatic activity induced by phosphorylating conditions, but basal AA was markedly decreased in the S118A mutant. Altogether, these results demonstrate that the rapid inhibition of AA is a widespread and fully reversible process and that phosphorylation of specific residues modulate AA. These processes provide a new general mechanism by which local estrogen concentration can be rapidly altered in the brain and other tissues. [less ▲]

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See detailAcute Stress Differentially Affects Aromatase Activity in Specific Brain Nuclei of Adult Male and Female Quail
Dickens, Molly J; Cornil, Charlotte ULg; Balthazart, Jacques ULg

in Endocrinology (2011), 52(11), 4242-51

The rapid and temporary suppression of reproductive behavior is often assumed to be an important feature of the adaptive acute stress response. However, how this suppression operates at the mechanistic ... [more ▼]

The rapid and temporary suppression of reproductive behavior is often assumed to be an important feature of the adaptive acute stress response. However, how this suppression operates at the mechanistic level is poorly understood.The enzyme aromatase converts testosterone to estradiol in the brain to activate reproductive behavior in male Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica). The discovery of rapid and reversible modification of aromatase activity (AA) provides a potential mechanism for fast, stress induced changes in behavior. We investigated the effects of acute stress on AA in both sexes by measuring enzyme activity in all aromatase-expressing brain nuclei before, during, and after 30 min of acute restraint stress. We show here that acute stress rapidly alters AA in the male and female brain and that these changes are specific to the brain nuclei and sex of the individual. Specifically, acute stress rapidly (5 min) increased AA in the male medial preoptic nucleus, a region controlling male reproductive behavior; in females, a similar increase was also observed, but it appeared delayed (15min) and had smaller amplitude. In the ventromedial and tuberal hypothalamus, regions associated with female reproductive behavior, stress induced a quick and sustained decrease in AA in females, but in males, only a slight increase (ventromedial) or no change (tuberal) in AA was observed. Effects of acute stress on brain estrogen production, therefore, represent one potential way through which stress affects reproduction. [less ▲]

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See detailSEASONAL AND INDIVIDUAL VARIATION IN SINGING BEHAVIOR CORRELATES WITH ALPHA 2-NORADRENERGIC RECEPTOR DENSITY IN BRAIN REGIONS IMPLICATED IN SONG, SEXUAL, AND SOCIAL BEHAVIOR
Heimovics, Sarah A.; Cornil, Charlotte ULg; Hellis, J. M. S. et al

in Neuroscience (2011), 182

In seasonally breeding male songbirds, both the function of song and the stimuli that elicit singing behavior change seasonally. The catecholamine norepinephrine (NE) modulates attention and arousal ... [more ▼]

In seasonally breeding male songbirds, both the function of song and the stimuli that elicit singing behavior change seasonally. The catecholamine norepinephrine (NE) modulates attention and arousal across behavioral states, yet the role of NE in seasonally-appropriate vocal communication has not been well-studied. The present study explored the possibility that seasonal changes in alpha 2-noradrenergic receptors (alpha2-R) within song control regions and brain regions implicated in sexual arousal and social behavior contribute to seasonal changes in song behavior in male European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris). We quantified singing behavior in aviary housed males under spring breeding season conditions and fall conditions. alpha2-R were identified with the selective ligand [3H]RX821002 using autoradiographic methods. The densities of alpha2-R in song control regions (HVC and the robust nucleus of the arcopallium [RA]) and the lateral septum (LS) were lower in Spring Condition males. alpha2-R densities in the caudal portion of the medial preoptic nucleus (POM) related negatively to singing behavior. Testosterone concentrations were highest in Spring Condition males and correlated with alpha2-R in LS and POM. Results link persistent seasonal alterations in the structure or function of male song to seasonal changes in NE alpha2-Rs in HVC, RA, and LS. Individual differences in alpha2-R in the POM may in part explain individual differences in song production irrespective of the context in which a male is singing, perhaps through NE modification of male sexual arousal. [less ▲]

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