Estrous cycle-dependent neural plasticity in the caudal brainstem in the female golden hamster: ultrastructural and immunocytochemical studies of axo-dendritic relationships and dynamic remodeling.
until further notice
SourceHormones and Behavior, 54, 5, (2008), pp. 627-39
Article / Letter to editor
Display more detailsDisplay less details
Hormones and Behavior
SubjectDCN 2: Functional Neurogenomics; UMCN 3.2: Cognitive neurosciences
During the short four-day estrous cycle of the female hamster various behavioral (lordosis, vocalization and aggression) and autonomic adaptations occur. Presumably, these changes are under ovarian control. Recently, we described a distinct estrogen receptor-alpha immunoreactive (ER-alpha-IR) cell group, now called nucleus para-retroambiguus (NPRA), in the caudal ventrolateral medulla (Gerrits et al., 2008). Neurons of this group project to the ipsilateral intermediolateral cell column in the thoracic and upper lumbar cord. Clearly, the NPRA is part of an estrogen-sensitive neuronal network and the same applies to the region containing the commissural part of the solitary tract nucleus (NTScom) and the A2 group, here called NTScom/A2. Estrogen is known to modulate neuronal ultrastructure in various brain areas and spinal cord, but not in the caudal brainstem. Because we assumed that the NPRA plays a role in estrous cycle related adaptations, we hypothesized the occurrence of plasticity in this nucleus. In the present study we examined morphological changes of axo-dendritic relationships in NPRA and NTScom/A2 in estrous, diestrous and ovariectomized (OVX) hamsters, using immuno-electron microscopy and the 1D5 anti-ER-alpha antibody. Ultrastructural analysis revealed that the ratio "axon terminals surface/dendrite surface" was significantly increased in both the NPRA and NTScom/A2 during the estrous phase compared to the OVX and diestrous conditions. Remodeling of axon terminals due to axonal sprouting into large terminal fields filled up with pleomorphic vesicles resulted in contacts with more dendrites, and was the main cause for the "axonal terminal-dendritic-ratio" shift. In conclusion: Estrous cycle-induced axonal and dendritic plasticity is present in the NPRA, and in the NTScom/A2 group. Our findings support our hypothesis that estrogen-sensitive neuronal networks in the caudal brainstem display structural plasticity, probably to modulate steroid hormone dependent behaviors or autonomic adaptations.
Upload full text