Estrogen explains how the developing brain develops sexual differences

Estrogen explains how the developing brain develops sexual differences ...

Early in life estrogen shape the developing brain, enabling energy balance, mood, and behavior to thrive. Professor Tollkuhn of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and his colleagues mapped genes controlled by the estrogen receptor in the developing and adult mouse brain. These findings suggest that these genes could be useful in further exploring the role of this sex hormone in brain development, behavior, and disease.

Sex hormones play an essential role in shaping an animal behavior, and their influence begins early. Early-life hormonal surges help shape the developing brain, establishing circuitry that will affect behavior for a lifetime.

Hundreds of genes in the brain are under the control ofestrogen. Fluctuating levels of the hormone cause changes in mood, energy balance, and behavior throughout life, as well as sculpting early on developing neural circuits. These effects occur when activated estrogen receptors sit directly on a cell DNA to turn genes on or off.

Professor Dr. Jeffer Stollkuhn, a graduate student, and their colleagues have been mapping exactly where estrogen receptors have accumulated inside mouse brain cells. They have examined both males and females, showing that estrogen stimulates physical differences in the brains of males and females during development.

Tollkuhn explains that estrogen is present in both males and females in the brains; some neurons make it themselves out of testosterone. In male mice, estrogen is developed through a surge of testosterone that is released shortly after birth infected cell formation. This is due to a variety of behaviors in adulthood, including mating, parenting, and aggression.

It''s quite a difficult time when the brain is working and wiring up that it has to get this input to make these permanent changes in the brain wiring. This is a transit surge, but it seems to have significant consequences on brain development.

A Tollkuhns team examined where estrogen receptors landed following this hormonal surge, focusing on the BNST, a brain tissue that is larger in males than females, both in mice and humans. These found a number of genes that were under estrogens control, including many who were involved in neurodevelopment and neuronal signaling. And while estrogen itself remains in the brain for a few hours, it appears that the hormone-controlled genes remain active for weeks.

Now that they know what estrogen is targeting in the brain, the Tollkuhns team intends to investigate precisely how these genes are implicating the brain''s diversity in behavior and behavior.

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