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      The Mouse Primary Visual Cortex Is a Site of Production and Sensitivity to Estrogens

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          The classic female estrogen, 17β-estradiol (E2), has been repeatedly shown to affect the perceptual processing of visual cues. Although gonadal E2 has often been thought to influence these processes, the possibility that central visual processing may be modulated by brain-generated hormone has not been explored. Here we show that estrogen-associated circuits are highly prevalent in the mouse primary visual cortex (V1). Specifically, we cloned aromatase, a marker for estrogen-producing neurons, and the classic estrogen receptors (ERs) ERα and ERβ, as markers for estrogen-responsive neurons, and conducted a detailed expression analysis via in-situ hybridization. We found that both monocular and binocular V1 are highly enriched in aromatase- and ER-positive neurons, indicating that V1 is a site of production and sensitivity to estrogens. Using double-fluorescence in-situ hybridization, we reveal the neurochemical identity of estrogen-producing and -sensitive cells in V1, and demonstrate that they constitute a heterogeneous neuronal population. We further show that visual experience engages a large population of aromatase-positive neurons and, to a lesser extent, ER-expressing neurons, suggesting that E2 levels may be locally regulated by visual input in V1. Interestingly, acute episodes of visual experience do not affect the density or distribution of estrogen-associated circuits. Finally, we show that adult mice dark-reared from birth also exhibit normal distribution of aromatase and ERs throughout V1, suggesting that the implementation and maintenance of estrogen-associated circuits is independent of visual experience. Our findings demonstrate that the adult V1 is a site of production and sensitivity to estrogens, and suggest that locally-produced E2 may shape visual cortical processing.

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          Most cited references 69

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            Inducible and constitutive transcription factors in the mammalian nervous system: control of gene expression by Jun, Fos and Krox, and CREB/ATF proteins.

             J D Leah,  T Herdegen (1998)
            This article reviews findings up to the end of 1997 about the inducible transcription factors (ITFs) c-Jun, JunB, JunD, c-Fos, FosB, Fra-1, Fra-2, Krox-20 (Egr-2) and Krox-24 (NGFI-A, Egr-1, Zif268); and the constitutive transcription factors (CTFs) CREB, CREM, ATF-2 and SRF as they pertain to gene expression in the mammalian nervous system. In the first part we consider basic facts about the expression and activity of these transcription factors: the organization of the encoding genes and their promoters, the second messenger cascades converging on their regulatory promoter sites, the control of their transcription, the binding to dimeric partners and to specific DNA sequences, their trans-activation potential, and their posttranslational modifications. In the second part we describe the expression and possible roles of these transcription factors in neural tissue: in the quiescent brain, during pre- and postnatal development, following sensory stimulation, nerve transection (axotomy), neurodegeneration and apoptosis, hypoxia-ischemia, generalized and limbic seizures, long-term potentiation and learning, drug dependence and withdrawal, and following stimulation by neurotransmitters, hormones and neurotrophins. We also describe their expression and possible roles in glial cells. Finally, we discuss the relevance of their expression for nervous system functioning under normal and patho-physiological conditions. Copyright 1998 Elsevier Science B.V.
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              Gonadal steroids regulate dendritic spine density in hippocampal pyramidal cells in adulthood.

              Gonadal steroids are known to influence hippocampal physiology in adulthood. It is presently unknown whether gonadal steroids influence the morphology of hippocampal neurons in the adult intact rat brain. In order to determine whether female sex hormones influence hippocampal morphology in the intact adult, we performed Golgi impregnation on brains from ovariectomized rats and ovariectomized rats which received estradiol or estradiol and progesterone replacement. Removal of circulating gonadal steroids by ovariectomy of adult female rats resulted in a profound decrease in dendritic spine density in CA1 pyramidal cells of the hippocampus. Estradiol replacement prevented the observed decrease in dendritic spine density; progesterone augmented the effect of estradiol within a short time period (5 hr). Ovariectomy or gonadal steroid replacement did not affect spine density of CA3 pyramidal cells or granule cells of the dentate gyrus. These results demonstrate that gonadal steroids are necessary for the maintenance of normal adult CA1 hippocampal pyramidal cell structure. The short time course required to observe these effects (3 d for the estradiol effect and 5 hr for the progesterone effect) implies that CA1 pyramidal cell dendritic spine density may fluctuate during the normal (4-5 d) rat estrous cycle.

                Author and article information

                Role: Editor
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                24 May 2011
                : 6
                : 5
                [1 ]Department of Physiology, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States of America
                [2 ]Department of Geriatric Medicine, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States of America
                [3 ]Reynolds Oklahoma Center on Aging, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States of America
                [4 ]Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York, United States of America
                [5 ]Center for Visual Science, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York, United States of America
                New Mexico State University, United States of America
                Author notes

                Conceived and designed the experiments: RP. Performed the experiments: J-KJ LAT KB AKM RP. Analyzed the data: J-KJ LAT KB AKM RP. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: LAT AKM RP. Wrote the paper: LAT AKM RP.

                Jeong et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
                Page count
                Pages: 12
                Research Article
                Anatomy and Physiology
                Endocrine System
                Endocrine Physiology
                Sensory Systems
                Visual System



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