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Nat Neurosci. 2017 Nov;20(11):1580-1590. doi: 10.1038/nn.4644. Epub 2017 Sep 18.

Esr1+ cells in the ventromedial hypothalamus control female aggression.

Author information

1
Neuroscience Institute, New York University School of Medicine, New York, New York, USA.
2
Department of Physiology, Medical College of Xiamen University, Xiamen, Fujian, China.
3
Center for Neural Science, New York University, New York, New York, USA.
4
Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, DGIST, Daegu, Korea.
5
Department of Psychiatry, New York University School of Medicine, New York, New York, USA.
6
Emotional Brain Institute, New York University School of Medicine, New York, New York, USA.

Abstract

As an essential means of resolving conflicts, aggression is expressed by both sexes but often at a higher level in males than in females. Recent studies suggest that cells in the ventrolateral part of the ventromedial hypothalamus (VMHvl) that express estrogen receptor-α (Esr1) and progesterone receptor are essential for male but not female mouse aggression. In contrast, here we show that VMHvlEsr1+ cells are indispensable for female aggression. This population was active when females attacked naturally. Inactivation of these cells reduced female aggression whereas their activation elicited attack. Additionally, we found that female VMHvl contains two anatomically distinguishable subdivisions that showed differential gene expression, projection and activation patterns after mating and fighting. These results support an essential role of the VMHvl in both male and female aggression and reveal the existence of two previously unappreciated subdivisions in the female VMHvl that are involved in distinct social behaviors.

PMID:
28920934
PMCID:
PMC5953764
DOI:
10.1038/nn.4644
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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