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J Neurobiol. 1997 Jul;33(1):45-60.

Vasotocinergic innervation of areas containing aromatase-immunoreactive cells in the quail forebrain.

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Laboratory of Biochemistry, University of Li├Ęge, Belgium.


In the male quail forebrain, aromatase-immunoreactive (ARO-ir) elements are clustered within the sexually dimorphic medial preoptic nucleus (POM), nucleus striae terminalis (nST), nucleus accumbens (nAc), and ventromedial and tuberal hypothalamus. These ARO-ir cells are sensitive to testosterone and its metabolites: Their number and size increase after exposure to these steroids. The POM and lateral septum are also characterized by a dense vasotocinergic innervation that is also sensitive to testosterone. We analyzed here the anatomical relationships between ARO-ir elements and VT-ir fibers in the quail prosencephalon. Sequential staining for vasotocin, aromatase, or vasotocin plus aromatase was performed on adjacent 30-microm-thick cryostat sections. High concentrations of thin VT-ir fibers were observed within the POM, nST, lateral septum, periventricular mesencephalic central gray, and ventromedial and tuberal hypothalamus. There was a close correspondence between the extension of the ARO-ir cells and of VT-ir fibers. In double-labeled sections, all clusters of ARO-ir cells with the exception of those located in the nAc were embedded in a dense network of VT-ir fibers. Many of the VT-ir terminals appeared to end in the neuropile surrounding ARO-ir elements rather than directly on their cell bodies. This study supports the idea that the testosterone-dependent aromatase system is directly innervated by a testosterone-dependent peptidergic system. Aromatase-containing cells could therefore be modulated by steroids both directly and indirectly through the vasotocin system. Alternatively, this neuroanatomical arrangement may mediate the control of vasotocin synthesis or release by steroids. Functional studies demonstrate that both aromatase and vasotocin affect reproductive behavior in quail, and the present data provide anatomical support for the integration of these effects.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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