Endocrinology Journal Article

Sex Steroid Action in Brain Sexual Differentiation

June 22, 2020
 

Masahiro Morishita, Ryoma Koiso, Shinji Tsukahara
Endocrinology, Volume 161, Issue 6, June 2020, bqaa063
https://doi.org/10.1210/endocr/bqaa063

Abstract

The calbindin-sexually dimorphic nucleus (CALB-SDN) and calbindin-principal nucleus of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (CALB-BNSTp) show male-biased sex differences in calbindin neuron number. The ventral part of the BNSTp (BNSTpv) exhibits female-biased sex differences in noncalbindin neuron number. We previously reported that prepubertal gonadectomy disrupts the masculinization of the CALB-SDN and CALB-BNSTp and the feminization of the BNSTpv. This study aimed to determine the action mechanisms of testicular androgens on the masculinization of the CALB-SDN and CALB-BNSTp and whether ovarian estrogens are the hormones that have significant actions in the feminization of the BNSTpv. We performed immunohistochemical analyses of calbindin and NeuN, a neuron marker, in male mice orchidectomized on postnatal day 20 (PD20) and treated with cholesterol, testosterone, estradiol, or dihydrotestosterone during PD20-70, female mice ovariectomized on PD20 and treated with cholesterol or estradiol during PD20-70, and PD70 mice gonadectomized on PD56. Calbindin neurons number in the calbindin-sexually dimorphic nucleus and CALB-BNSTp in males treated with testosterone or dihydrotestosterone, but not estradiol, was significantly larger than that in cholesterol-treated males. Noncalbindin neuron number in the BNSTpv in estradiol-treated females was significantly larger than that in cholesterol-treated females. Gonadectomy on PD56 had no significant effect on neuron numbers. Additionally, an immunohistochemical analysis revealed the expression of androgen receptors in the CALB-SDN and CALB-BNSTp of PD30 males and estrogen receptors-α in the BNSTpv of PD30 females. These results suggest that peripubertal testicular androgens act to masculinize the CALB-SDN and CALB-BNSTp without aromatization, and peripubertal ovarian estrogens act to feminize the BNSTpv.

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