UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Sex and regional differences in estradiol content in the prefrontal cortex, amygdala and hippocampus of adult male and female rats Barker, Jennifer Marie; Galea, Liisa A. M.


In general, the behavioural and neural effects of estradiol administration to males and females differ. While much attention has been paid to the potential structural, cellular and sub-cellular mechanisms that may underlie such differences, as of yet there has been no examination of whether the differences observed may be related to differential uptake or storage of estradiol within the brain itself. We administered estradiol benzoate to gonadectomized male and female rats, and compared the concentration of estradiol in serum and brain tissue found in these rats to those of gonadectomized, oil-treated rats and intact rats of both sexes. Long-term gonadectomy (3 weeks) reduced estradiol concentration in the male and female hippocampus, but not in the male or female amygdala or in the female prefrontal cortex. Furthermore, exogenous treatment with estradiol increased estradiol content to levels above intact animals in the amygdala, prefrontal cortex and the male hippocampus. Levels of estradiol were undetectable in the prefrontal cortex of intact males, but were detectable in all other brain regions of intact rats. Here we demonstrate (1) that serum concentrations of estradiol are not necessarily reflective of brain tissue concentrations, (2) that within the brain, there are regional differences in the effects of gonadectomy and estradiol administration, and (3) that there is less evidence for local production of estradiol in males than females, particularly in the prefrontal cortex and perhaps the hippocampus. Thus there are regional differences in estradiol concentration in the prefrontal cortex, amygdala and hippocampus that are influenced by sex and hormone status.

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