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Selected Publication:

Type of publication: Journal Article
Type of document: Full Paper

Year: 2007

Authors: Canoine, V; Fusani, L; Schlinger, B; Hau, M

Title: Low sex steroids, high steroid receptors: Increasing the sensitivity of the nonreproductive brain.

Source: Dev Neurobiol (67), 1 57-67.

Authors Vetmeduni Vienna:

Fusani Leonida

Male aggressive behavior is generally regulated by testosterone (T). In most temperate breeding males, aggressive behavior is only expressed during the reproductive period. At this time circulating T concentrations, brain steroid receptors, and steroid metabolic enzymes are elevated in many species relative to the nonreproductive period. Many tropical birds, however, display aggressive behavior both during the breeding and the nonbreeding season, but plasma levels of T can remain low throughout the year and show little seasonal fluctuation. Studies on the year-round territorial spotted antbird (Hylophylax n. naevioides) suggest that T nevertheless regulates aggressive behavior in both the breeding and nonbreeding season. We hypothesize that to regulate aggressive behaviors during the nonbreeding season, when T is at its minimum, male spotted antbirds increase brain sensitivity to steroids. This can be achieved by locally up-regulating androgen receptors (ARs), estrogen receptors (ERs), or the enzyme aromatase (AROM) that converts T into estradiol. We therefore compared mRNA expression of AR, ERalpha, and AROM in free- living male spotted antbirds across reproductive and nonreproductive seasons in two brain regions known to regulate both reproductive and aggressive behaviors. mRNA expression of ERalpha in the preoptic area and AR in the nucleus taeniae were elevated in male spotted antbirds during the nonbreeding season when circulating T concentrations were low. This unusual seasonal receptor regulation may represent a means for the year-round regulation of vertebrate aggressive behavior via steroids by increasing the brain"s sensitivity to sex steroids during the nonbreeding season.

Keywords Pubmed: Aggression/physiology*
Behavior, Animal
Brain/anatomy & histology
Estrogen Receptor alpha/genetics
Estrogen Receptor alpha/metabolism*
In Situ Hybridization
RNA, Messenger/metabolism
Receptors, Androgen/genetics
Receptors, Androgen/metabolism*
Statistics, Nonparametric
Vocalization, Animal

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