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Brain Res. 2000 Mar 24;859(2):262-72.

Combined c-fos and 14C-2-deoxyglucose method to differentiate site-specific excitation from disinhibition: analysis of maternal behavior in the rat.

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Department of Psychology, The State University of New Jersey, 101 Warren Street, Rutgers, Newark, NJ, USA.


On the basis of evidence that 14C-2-deoxyglucose (2-DG) autoradiography indicates activity at axonal terminals, whereas c-fos immunocytochemistry indicates activity of neuronal cell bodies, we combined these techniques in adjacent histological brain sections to assess excitatory and disinhibitory synaptic relations in selected sites in female rats in which maternal behavior was elicited by natural parturition, sensitization (7- to 10-day cohabitation with foster pups), or hysterectomy. All individuals in these three groups expressed maternal behavior immediately before 2-DG injection. Controls were non-maternal virgins. Parturient and Hysterectomized groups: elevation (compared with controls) in both 2-DG and c-fos activity in medial preoptic area (MPOA) indicated an increase in its input and output activity, i.e., an excitatory interaction; the MPOA was previously shown to be critical for maternal behavior. Sensitized group: a decrease in 2-DG activity of vomeronasal nuclei (bed nucleus of the accessory olfactory tract, BAOT, and medial amygdala, ME, replicating our previous study) and an elevation in c-fos activity, jointly indicate disinhibition of these nuclei, that were previously shown to modulate pup-chemostimulation-induced sensitization. All other sites showed evidence of excitatory input-output relationships (i.e., joint increase in both 2-DG and c-fos activity), e.g., bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST), lateral habenula (LHAB), central gray (CG), thalamus (THAL), septum (SEPT), and ventral tegmental area (VTA). The present study demonstrates the feasibility of measuring 2-DG and c-fos activity jointly in adjacent sections of the same brain, thereby providing evidence to distinguish between localized excitation and disinhibition.

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