Using quantitative immunocytochemical procedures, the total number of estrogen and androgen receptors was estimated in a large number of hypothalamic and limbic nuclei of male rats, in which brain estrogen formation was inhibited neonatally by treatment with the aromatase inhibitor 1,4,6-androstatriene-3,17-dione. The highest densities of estrogen receptor immunoreactivity were observed in the periventricular preoptic area and the medial preoptic area. Neonatally estrogen-deprived males showed a higher estrogen receptor immunoreactivity than control males in the periventricular preoptic area and the ventrolateral portion of the ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus, i.e. those brain areas in which sex differences have been reported, with female rats showing a greater estrogen binding capacity than male rats. The highest densities of androgen receptor immunoreactivity were found in the septohypothalamic nucleus, the medial preoptic area, the posterior division of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis and the posterodorsal division of the medial amygdaloid nucleus. No significant differences in distribution or total numbers of androgen receptors were found between neonatally estrogen-deprived males and control males. These findings suggest that neonatal estrogens, derived from the neural aromatization of testosterone, are involved in the sexual differentiation of the estrogen receptor system in the periventricular preoptic area and the ventromedial hypothalamus. The role of neonatal estrogens in the development of the forebrain androgen receptor system is less clear.

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Department of Reproduction and Development

Bakker, J, Pool, C.W, Sonnemans, M.A.F, van Leeuwen, F.W, & Slob, A.K. (1997). Quantitative estimation of estrogen and androgen receptor-immunoreactive cells in the forebrain of neonatally estrogen-deprived male rats. Neuroscience, 77(3), 911–919. doi:10.1016/S0306-4522(96)00423-X