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Nat Neurosci. 2001 Feb;4(2):170-5.

Estrogen synthesis in the male brain triggers development of the avian song control pathway in vitro.

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  • 1Department of Cell and Structural Biology, University of Illinois, Urbana 61801, USA.

Abstract

Sexual differentiation of the brain is determined in part by steroids such as estrogen, which are generally assumed to arise from the gonads. Here we show that estrogens are produced autonomously in cultured juvenile male zebra finch brain slices, and this brain-derived estrogen is both necessary and sufficient to trigger formation in vitro of a key male-specific synaptic connection in the telencephalic song control circuit. Male-like development was stimulated in female slices cultured with male slices or exposed to estrogen, and estrogen antagonists inhibited song circuit development in slices of either sex. These results reveal a new mode of sex-specific neural development, induced not by differential exposure to gonadal steroids, but rather by differential synthesis of steroids in the brain.

PMID:
11175878
DOI:
10.1038/84001
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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