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Gen Comp Endocrinol. 2011 Dec 1;174(3):354-61. doi: 10.1016/j.ygcen.2011.09.017. Epub 2011 Oct 2.

Distribution and subcellular localization of glucocorticoid receptor-immunoreactive neurons in the developing and adult male zebra finch brain.

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Neuroscience Institute and Center for Behavioral Neuroscience, Georgia State University, P.O. Box 5030, Atlanta, GA 30302-5030, USA.


Stress has long lasting effects on physiology, development, behavior, reproductive success and the survival of an individual. These effects are mediated by glucocorticoids, such as corticosterone, via glucocorticoid receptors (GR), however the exact mechanisms underlying these effects are unknown. GR have been widely studied in mammals but little is known about GR in other vertebrate groups, especially songbirds. We investigated the distribution, quantity, and subcellular-localization of GR-immunoreactive (GRir) neurons in the brains of male zebra finches on P10 (post-hatch day 10, song nuclei formed), and in adulthood (post-hatch day 90 or older) using immunohistochemistry. GRir neurons were widely distributed in the brains of male zebra finches including two song nuclei HVC (acronym is a proper name) and RA (nucleus robustus arcopallii) and brain regions including HP (hippocampal formation), BSTl (lateral part of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis), POM (nucleus preopticus medialis), PVN (nucleus paraventricularis magnocellularis), TeO (optic tectum), S (nucleus of the solitary tract), LoC (Locus coeruleus). Distribution did not vary at the two age points examined, however there were significant differences in staining intensity. Subcellular GR-immunoreactivity patterns were classified as cytoplasmic, nuclear, or both (cytoplasmic and nuclear) and there were significant differences in the overall number of GRir neurons and neurons with both nuclear and cytoplasmic staining in P10 and adult brains. However, there were no significant differences in the percentage of subcellular GR immunoreactivity patterns between P10 and adults. Our study of GRir neuronal distribution in the zebra finch brain may contribute towards understanding of the complex and adverse effects of stress on brain during two different stages of life history.

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