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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1990 Dec;87(23):9445-8.

Localization of androgen receptors and estrogen receptors in the same cells of the songbird brain.

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  • Zoology Department, University of Kaiserslautern, Federal Republic of Germany.


Estrogens and androgens each have unique effects but act together for the neural differentiation and control of sexual behaviors in male vertebrates, such as the canary. The neuronal basis for these synergistic effects is elusive because the spatial relation between estrogen target cells and androgen target cells is unknown. This study localized estrogen receptor (ER)-containing cells by using immunocytochemistry and androgen receptor (AR)-containing cells by using autoradiography in the same sections of the male canary brain. Three cell types, those containing only ER, those containing only AR, and those containing both ER and AR, were found in tissue-specific frequencies. The midbrain nucleus intercollicularis exhibited the highest number of cells expressing both ER and AR, whereas ER and AR are expressed only in disjunctive cell populations in the forebrain nucleus hyperstriatalis ventrale, pars caudale. Synergistic effects of androgens and estrogens for the neural behavorial control could result from cells containing both ER and AR (intracellular) and from neural circuits containing ER and AR in different cells (intercellular).

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