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Brain, behavior and evolution

Socially modulated cell proliferation is independent of gonadal steroid hormones in the brain of the adult green treefrog (Hyla cinerea).


PMID 22269468

Abstract

Gonadal steroid hormones have been shown to influence adult neurogenesis in addition to their well-defined role in regulating social behavior. Adult neurogenesis consists of several processes including cell proliferation, which can be studied via 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine (BrdU) labeling. In a previous study we found that social stimulation altered both cell proliferation and levels of circulating gonadal steroids, leaving the issue of cause/effect unclear. In this study, we sought to determine whether socially modulated BrdU-labeling depends on gonadal hormone changes. We investigated this using a gonadectomy-implant paradigm and by exposing male and female green treefrogs (Hyla cinerea) to their conspecific chorus or control stimuli (i.e. random tones). Our results indicate that socially modulated cell proliferation occurred independently of gonadal hormone levels; furthermore, neither androgens in males nor estrogen in females increased cell proliferation in the preoptic area (POA) and infundibular hypothalamus, brain regions involved in endocrine regulation and acoustic communication. In fact, elevated estrogen levels decreased cell proliferation in those brain regions in the implanted female. In male frogs, evoked calling behavior was positively correlated with BrdU-labeling in the POA; however, statistical analysis showed that this behavior did not mediate socially induced cell proliferation. These results show that the social modulation of cell proliferation can occur without gonadal hormone involvement in either male or female adult anuran amphibians, and confirms that it is independent of a behavioral response in males.

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