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      Estrogen receptor-alpha distribution in male rodents is associated with social organization.

      The Journal of Comparative Neurology
      Amygdala, metabolism, Animals, Arvicolinae, Cricetinae, Estrogen Receptor alpha, Female, Hierarchy, Social, Male, Phodopus, Septal Nuclei, Sex Characteristics, Social Behavior, Species Specificity

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          It has been hypothesized that site-specific reduction of estrogen receptor-alpha (ERalpha) is associated with the expression of male prosocial behaviors. Specifically, highly social males are predicted to express significantly lower levels of ERalpha than females and less social males in brain regions associated with prosocial behavior including the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BST) and the medial amygdala (MeA). This hypothesis was tested by comparing ERalpha immunoreactivity (IR) in three species of microtines, the polygynous montane (Microtus montanus) and meadow (M. pennsylvanicus) voles and the monogamous pine vole (M. pinetorum), and two species of cricetines that differ in the extent of social pair-bond formation, Siberian (Phodopus sungorus) and Djungarian (P. campbelli) hamsters. As predicted, ERalpha-IR was sexually dimorphic in the BST and MeA of the highly social species, with females expressing more ERalpha-IR cells than males. Male and female montane voles did not differ. Male and female meadow voles differed in the ventromedial hypothalamus, with females expressing more ERalpha-IR cells. Male pine voles expressed lower levels of ERalpha-IR in the MeA than male montane and meadow voles and in the BST relative to montane males. Male Djungarian hamsters, which show higher levels of parental care, had fewer ERalpha-IR cells in the BST than male Siberian hamsters. Results indicate that the distribution of ERalpha differs relative to the continuum of species-typical affiliative behavior and supports the hypothesis that ERalpha has a significant role in regulating species-specific social organization. J. Comp. Neurol. 494:595-605, 2006. (c) 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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