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J Neurophysiol. 1995 Sep;74(3):1095-108.

Sensorimotor-correlated discharge recorded from ensembles of cerebellar Purkinje cells varies across the estrous cycle of the rat.

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Department of Anatomy, Hahnemann University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19102-1192, USA.


1. In the present study, locomotor-correlated activity of cerebellar Purkinje cells, recorded using arrays of microwires chronically implanted in adult female rats, was examined across estrous-cycle-associated fluctuations in endogenous sex steroids. Ongoing studies from this laboratory have shown that systemic and local administration of the sex steroid 17 beta-estradiol (E2) augments excitatory responses of cerebellar Purkinje cells to iontophoretically applied glutamate, recorded in vivo from anesthetized female rats. In addition, this steroid potentiated discharge correlated with limb movement. For the present study, extracellular single-unit activity was recorded from as many as 5-11 Purkinje cells simultaneously during treadmill locomotion paradigms. Motor modulation of activity was recorded across three to five consecutive estrous cycles from behaviorally identified cohorts of neurons to test the hypothesis that fluctuations in endogenous sex steroids alter motor modulation of Purkinje cell discharge. 2. Locomotor-associated discharge correlated with treadmill locomotion was increased by a mean of 47% on proestrus, when E2 levels are elevated, relative to diestrus 1. These changes in discharge rate during treadmill locomotion were of significantly greater magnitude than corresponding cyclic alterations in discharge during stationary periods. 3. Correlations with the circadian cycle were also significant, because peak levels of locomotor-associated discharge on the night of behavioral estrus, following elevations in circulating E2, were on average 67% greater than corresponding discharge recorded during the light (proestrus). 4. Alterations in the step cycle were also observed across the estrous cycle: significant decreases in the duration of the flexion phase (by 265 ms, P < 0.05) were noted on estrus compared with diestrus. 5. When recorded on estrus, Purkinje cell discharge correlated with the stance or flexion phase of the step cycle was greater in magnitude and preceded the event by an average of 130 ms, compared with values determined on diestrus. 6. On estrus, responses of Purkinje neurons to iontophoretically applied quisqualate were enhanced fourfold after administration of exogenous E2, assessed in urethan-anesthetized female rats. 7. In addition, systemic administration of E2 (30 ng iv) potentiated responses of cerebellar Purkinje cells to electrical stimulation of the forepaw by an average of 150%, recorded in anesthetized female rats. 8. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that elevations in circulating E2 are associated with enhanced discharge of cerebellar Purkinje cells in response to pharmacological or electrical stimuli or associated with locomotor behavior.

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