Catherine S. Woolley's research while affiliated with Northwestern University and other places

Publications (84)

Article
On 2 January 2020, the neuroscience community lost not only a pioneering figure, but also a generous and influential thought leader. Bruce Sherman McEwen, head of the Harold and Margaret Milliken Hatch Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology at the Rockefeller University, passed away at age 81, following a short illness. A member of the National Academy o...
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Excitatory synapses can be potentiated by chemical neuromodulators, including 17β-estradiol (E2), or patterns of synaptic activation, as in long-term potentiation (LTP). Here, we investigated kinases and calcium sources required for acute E2-induced synaptic potentiation in the hippocampus of each sex and tested whether sex differences in kinase si...
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p>In recent years, several funding agencies have introduced requirements for researchers to consider sex as a biological variable in preclinical research. In this Comment article, McCarthy and colleagues discuss the potential impact of these policies for neuroscience research.</p
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The recently implemented National Institutes of Health policy requiring that grant applicants consider sex as a biological variable in the design of basic and preclinical animal research studies has prompted considerable discussion within the neuroscience community. Here, we present reasons to be optimistic that this new policy will be valuable for...
Data
Summary of effect sizes. Each table lists significant effects shown in each Figure with the respective mean sample size and Cohen’s d statistic for each effect. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.12917.021
Article
Neurons of the cerebellar nuclei (CbN) transmit cerebellar signals to premotor areas. The cerebellum expresses several autism-linked genes, including GABRB3, which encodes GABAA receptor β3 subunits and is among the maternal alleles deleted in Angelman syndrome. We tested how this Gabrb3 m-/p+ mutation affects CbN physiology in mice, separating res...
Article
Inositol triphosphate (IP3) is an important second messenger that participates in signal transduction pathways in diverse cell types including hippocampal neurons. Stimulation of phospholipase C in response to various stimuli (hormones, growth factors, neurotransmitters, neurotrophins, neuromodulators, odorants, light, etc) results in hydrolysis of...
Article
Unlabelled: Estradiol (E2) acutely potentiates glutamatergic synaptic transmission in the hippocampus of both male and female rats. Here, we investigated whether E2-induced synaptic potentiation occurs via presynaptic and/or postsynaptic mechanisms and which estrogen receptors (ERs) mediate E2's effects in each sex. Whole-cell voltage-clamp record...
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Unlabelled: The possibility that mechanisms of synaptic modulation differ between males and females has far-reaching implications for understanding brain disorders that vary between the sexes. We found recently that 17β-estradiol (E2) acutely suppresses GABAergic inhibition in the hippocampus of female rats through a sex-specific estrogen receptor...
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In vitro studies show that estrogens acutely modulate synaptic function in both sexes. These acute effects may be mediated in vivo by estrogens synthesized within the brain, which could fluctuate more rapidly than circulating estrogens. For this to be the case, brain regions that respond acutely to estrogens should be capable of synthesizing them....
Article
Previous work has shown that the steroid hormone estradiol facilitates the release of anticonvulsant neuropeptides from inhibitory neurons in the hippocampus to suppress seizures. Because neuropeptides are packaged in large dense core vesicles, estradiol may facilitate neuropeptide release through regulation of dense core vesicles. In the current s...
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Acute 17β-estradiol (E2) signaling in the brain is mediated by extranuclear estrogen receptors. Here we used biochemical methods to investigate the distribution, posttranslational modification, and E2 regulation of estrogen receptor-α (ERα) in synaptosomal fractions isolated by differential centrifugation from the adult female rat hippocampus. We f...
Article
The steroid 17β-estradiol (E2) is well known to influence hippocampal functions such as memory, affective behaviors, and epilepsy. There is growing awareness that in addition to responding to ovarian E2, the hippocampus of both males and females synthesizes E2 as a neurosteroid that could acutely modulate synaptic function. Previous work on acute E...
Article
Many lines of research have demonstrated structural plasticity of dendrites in the mammalian brain. Historically, the concept of structural plasticity has been incorporated into theories of learning in which structural changes in synaptic connections between neurons are suggested to underlie longterm information storage. However, the fact that circ...
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Despite robust sex differences in behavioral responses to drugs of abuse, relatively little is known about structural sex differences in synaptic connectivity of reward circuits such as in the nucleus accumbens (NAc). Previously, we showed that distal dendritic spine density on medium spiny neurons in the NAc is higher in females than males, sugges...
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ΔFosB plays a critical role in drug-induced long-term changes in the brain. In the current study, we evaluated locomotor activity in male and female rats treated with saline or cocaine for 2 weeks and quantitatively mapped ΔFosB expression in the dorsal striatum and nucleus accumbens of each animal by using an anti-FosB antibody that recognizes ΔFo...
Article
Human and animal studies indicate that drugs of abuse affect males and females differently, but the mechanism(s) underlying sex differences are unknown. The nucleus accumbens (NAc) is central in the neural circuitry of addiction and medium spiny neurons (MSNs) in the NAc show drug-induced changes in morphology and physiology including increased den...
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The hormone, 17β-estradiol (E2), influences the structure and function of synapses in the CA1 region of the hippocampus. E2 increases the density of dendritic spines and excitatory synapses on CA1 pyramidal cells, increases CA1 cells' sensitivity to excitatory synaptic input mediated by the NMDA receptor (NMDAR), enhances NMDAR-dependent long-term...
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Although recent evidence suggests that the hippocampus is a source of 17β-estradiol (E2), the physiological role of this neurosteroid E2, as distinct from ovarian E2, is unknown. One likely function of neurosteroid E2 is to acutely potentiate excitatory synaptic transmission, but the mechanism of this effect is not well understood. Using whole-cell...
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In the process of characterizing a custom-made affinity-purified antiserum for estrogen receptor beta (ERbeta), ck5912, we used a number of common tests for specificity of ck5912 along with that of 8 commercially available ERbeta antisera: Affinity Bioreagents PA1-310B, Invitrogen D7N, Upstate 06-629, Santa Cruz H150, Y19, L20, 1531, and Abcam 9.88...
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The nucleus accumbens (NAc) plays a central role in motivation and reward. While there is ample evidence for sex differences in addiction-related behaviors, little is known about the neuroanatomical substrates that underlie these sexual dimorphisms. We investigated sex differences in synaptic connectivity of the NAc by evaluating pre- and postsynap...
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About one-third of women with epilepsy have a catamenial seizure pattern, in which seizures fluctuate with the menstrual cycle. Catamenial seizures occur more frequently when the ratio of circulating estradiol to progesterone is high, suggesting that estradiol is proconvulsant. We used adult female rats to test how estradiol-induced suppression of...
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Mammalian puberty entails the emergence of behaviors such as courtship, coitus, and territorial aggressiveness. In adult rodents, the medial amygdala (MeA) is an important site for gonadal steroid hormone regulation of social behaviors and is sensitive to changes in the level of gonadal steroids. Here we show that prepubertal gonadectomy of male ra...
Chapter
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It is well known that the gonadal steroids (estradiol, progesterone, and testosterone) exert profound effects on the structure and function of the mamma-lian brain. Much progress has been made in identi-fying the cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie hormone-dependent neural plasticity, and the extent of this progress is summarized in sev...
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Hormone replacement therapy to treat or prevent Alzheimer Disease (AD) in postmenopausal women is controversial because it may pose other health risks such as cancer and thromboembolism. ApoE status is thought to influence the nootropic efficacy of hormone therapy, but findings are neither consistent nor well understood. We used a known in vitro me...
Chapter
Oestrogens have numerous effects on the brain, beginning during gestation and continuing on into adulthood. Many of these actions involve areas of the brain that are not primarily involved in reproduction, such as the basal forebrain, hippocampus, caudate putamen, midbrain raphe and brainstem locus coeruleus. This paper describes three actions of o...
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The medial amygdala (MeA) is crucial in the expression of sex-specific social behaviors. In adult rats the regional volume of the MeA posterodorsal subnucleus (MeApd) is approximately 50% larger in males than in females. The MeApd is also sexually dimorphic in prepubertal rats. We have recently shown that the left MeApd is significantly larger in p...
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Although the classical mechanism of estrogen action involves activation of nuclear transcription factor receptors, estrogen also has acute effects on neuronal signaling that occur too rapidly to involve gene expression. These rapid effects are likely to be mediated by extranuclear estrogen receptors associated with the plasma membrane and/or cytopl...
Article
It has been known for more than 30 years that estrogen can alter the intrinsic and synaptic physiology of neurons within minutes. The physiological significance of these acute effects has been unclear, however, because some effects require higher concentrations of estrogen than are detected in plasma, and because estrogen secreted by the ovary rise...
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The medial amygdala is important in social behaviors, many of which differ between males and females. The posterodorsal subnucleus of the medial amygdala (MeApd) is particularly sensitive to gonadal steroid hormones and is a likely site for gonadal hormone regulation of sexually dimorphic social behavior. Here we show that the synaptic organization...
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This review focuses on the effect of gonadal steroid hormones, androgen and estrogen, on dendrites in the adult rat central nervous system (CNS). Four hormone-responsive nuclei are considered: The spinal nucleus of the bulbocavernosus (SNB), the medial nucleus of the amygdala (MeA), the ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus (VMN), and the CA1 re...
Article
We used three-dimensional reconstruction from serial electron micrographs to investigate two structural changes that could underlie estrogen-induced disinhibition of hippocampal CA1 pyramidal cells: a decrease in the number of inhibitory inputs per neuron and/or a change in inhibitory boutons that could limit GABA release. We analyzed 373 boutons f...
Article
The steroid hormones 17beta-estradiol (estradiol) and progesterone not only regulate the reproductive system but have other central nervous system effects that can directly affect a variety of behaviors. Generally, estradiol has been shown to have activating effects, including the ability to increase seizure activity, while progesterone has been sh...
Article
Cerebellar Purkinje neurons maintain high firing rates but their synaptic terminals depress only moderately, raising the question of how vesicle depletion is minimized. To identify mechanisms that limit synaptic depression, we evoked 100 Hz trains of GABAergic inhibitory postsynaptic currents (IPSCs) in cerebellar nuclear neurons by stimulating Pur...
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Estrogen transiently disinhibits hippocampal CA1 pyramidal cells in adult female rats and prolongs the decay time of IPSCs in these cells. Estrogen-induced changes in synaptic inhibition are likely to be causally related to subsequent enhancements in excitatory synaptic function in CA1 pyramidal cells. Currently, it is unknown how or on what cells...
Article
Previous studies demonstrated that estrogen induces two sequential waves of CA1 pyramidal cell activation, evidenced by induction of c-Fos at 2 and 24 h after a single estrogen treatment. The second wave of activation is paralleled by suppression of immunoreactivity for glutamic acid decarboxylase-65kD (GAD65) in CA1 and decreased synaptic inhibiti...
Chapter
This chapter reviews morphological evidence for the growth actions of gonadal steroids in several systems, including avian song-control circuitry and rat lumbar spinal cord, hypothalamus, and hippocampus. It details ultrastructural evidence for estrogen-induced activation of neuronal-steroid growth effects. It begins with steroid-hormone receptor l...
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Despite the many effects of estrogen in the hippocampus, there has been little evidence that hippocampal principal cells express nuclear estrogen receptors. In the hippocampus, the α form of the nuclear estrogen receptor (ERα) has been localized to sparsely distributed cells with the morphological characteristics of inhibitory interneurons. Because...
Article
Previous studies have focused considerable attention on the effects of estrogen on excitatory synaptic input to hippocampal CA1 pyramidal cells. Estrogen increases the density of dendritic spines and synapses on CA1 pyramidal cells and increases the sensitivity of these cells to excitatory synaptic input. Little is known, however, about the effects...
Article
Dendritic spines are sites of the vast majority of excitatory synaptic input to hippocampal CA1 pyramidal cells. Estrogen has been shown to increase the density of dendritic spines on CA1 pyramidal cell dendrites in adult female rats. In parallel with increased spine density, estrogen has been shown also to increase the number of spine synapses for...
Article
This study was designed to determine whether previously demonstrated increases in hippocampal axospinous synapse density and NMDA receptor function induced by estradiol are paralleled by increased susceptibility to limbic (kainic acid induced) or generalized (flurothyl induced) behavioral seizures. Kainic acid was injected systemically to ovariecto...
Article
Oestradiol produces structural and functional changes in hippocampal circuitry of adult female rats. The density of both dendritic spines and axospinous synapses on hippocampal CA1 pyramidal cells is regulated by oestradiol. Additionally, oestradiol-induced differences in synaptic connectivity are paralleled by changes in NMDA receptor binding, imm...
Article
Previous studies have shown that estradiol induces structural and functional changes in hippocampal CA1 pyramidal cells of the adult female rat. Estradiol increases the density of dendritic spines and axospinous synapses on CA1 pyramidal cells, and increases these cells' sensitivity to NMDA receptor-mediated synaptic input. Curiously, while estradi...
Article
In the kainic acid (KA) model of temporal lobe epilepsy, mossy fibers (MFs) are thought to establish recurrent excitatory synaptic contacts onto granule cells. This hypothesis was tested by intracellular labeling of granule cells with biocytin and identifying their synaptic contacts in the dentate molecular layer with electron microscopic (EM) tech...
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Awareness of estrogen's effects on neural function is broadening rapidly. Areas of recent progress include increased understanding of estrogen signaling through both genomic and nongenomic pathways, as well as the mechanisms by which estrogen can induce or maintain synapses and protect neurons from a variety of insults. Findings in these areas demo...
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Estrogen exerts a variety of electrophysiological, neurotrophic, and metabolic effects on neurons in the adult central nervous system. Recent epidemiological studies have suggested that estrogen, as hormone replacement therapy in postmenopausal women, may be protective against Alzheimer's disease; the biological basis for a potential neuroprotectiv...
Article
Light and electron microscopic studies have shown that ovarian steroids regulate the density and number of excitatory synaptic inputs to hippocampal pyramidal cells in the adult female rat; elevated levels of estradiol are associated with a higher density of dendritic spine synapses on CA1 pyramidal cells. Electrophysiological analyses indicate tha...
Article
Changes in seizure frequency over the course of the menstrual cycle (i.e., catamenial epilepsy) have long been documented. Ovarian steroid hormones have a number of important short- and long-term effects on the brain that may contribute to this phenomenon. In particular, estrogen induces structural and functional changes in hippocampal neurons whic...
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Previous studies have shown that estradiol induces new dendritic spines and synapses on hippocampal CA1 pyramidal cells. We have assessed the consequences of estradiol-induced dendritic spines on CA1 pyramidal cell intrinsic and synaptic electrophysiological properties. Hippocampal slices were prepared from ovariectomized rats treated with either e...
Article
The effect of estradiol to increase the density of dendritic spines and axospinous synapses on hippocampal CA1 pyramidal cells in the adult female rat has been well-documented. However, presynaptic involvement in this process of synapse elimination and formation in the adult is unknown. To address this issue, we have reconstructed 410 complete pres...
Article
Oestrogens have numerous effects on the brain, beginning during gestation and continuing on into adulthood. Many of these actions involve areas of the brain that are not primarily involved in reproduction, such as the basal forebrain, hippocampus, caudate putamen, midbrain raphe and brainstem locus coeruleus. This paper describes three actions of o...
Article
Full-text available
In the adult female rat, the densities of dendritic spines and synapses on hippocampal CA1 pyramidal cells are dependent upon the ovarian steroid estradiol; moreover, spine and synapse density fluctuate naturally as ovarian steroid levels vary across the estrous cycle. To determine whether the effects of estradiol on dendritic spine density require...
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This chapter focuses on the steroid action on the neuronal structure. The role of steroid hormones in regulation of structural changes in the adult brain was slow to be acknowledged. This was probably largely because of presumptions of a fundamental distinction between organizational and activational effects of steroid hormones. Because activationa...
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Until recently, it has been widely believed that the adult brain does not undergo changes in its structure, particularly in relation to the actions of circulating hormones. It has now become clear that estradiol and progesterone have important effects on adult brain structure and function. Single section Golgi silver staining and electron microscop...
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This chapter discusses the significance of adrenal steroid action on the hippocampus. The first effects of adrenal steroids concerned destruction of neural tissue, but later findings pointed to the additional effects that protect neurons and enhance plasticity. The role of the hippocampus in learning and memory processes may be subject to regulatio...
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Dendritic spines cover the surface of a wide variety of neuronal types and are the postsynaptic sites of approximately 90% of the excitatory synapses formed in the central nervous system. Interestingly, changes in the morphology and/or density of dendritic spines have been shown to occur naturally, implying that they are a normal part of brain func...
Article
We have previously shown that the density of dendritic spines on hippocampal CA1 pyramidal cells is dependent on circulating estradiol and progesterone and fluctuates naturally during the 5 day estrous cycle in the adult rat. To date, however, no detailed characterization of the roles that these hormones play in regulation of spine density has been...
Article
In order to determine whether newly born cells in the dentate gyrus of the adult rat express the neuronal marker, neuron-specific enolase, or the glial marker, glial fibrillary acidic protein, we performed combined immunohistochemistry and autoradiography on brains from adult rats perfused at various times ranging from 1 h to four weeks following [...
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Several lines of evidence indicate that cell birth in the adult rat dentate gyrus is regulated by adrenal steroids. The expression of adrenal steroid receptors by mitotic cells in the dentate gyrus would support the hypothesis that these hormones act directly on granule cell progenitors. We performed a survival time course of in vivo [3H]thymidine...
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The rat dentate gyrus is unusual among mammalian brain regions in that it shows cell birth well into adulthood. During development, dentate gyrus cell birth is regulated by adrenal steroids. However, it is presently unknown whether cell division in the adult is also mediated by these same factors. In order to determine whether this is the case, we...
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We have found that the density of synapses in the stratum radiatum of the hippocampal CA1 region in the adult female rat is sensitive to estradiol manipulation and fluctuates naturally as the levels of ovarian steroids vary during the 5 d estrous cycle. In both cases, low levels of estradiol are correlated with lower synapse density, while high est...
Article
We have found that the density of synapses in the stratum radiatum of the hippocampal CA1 region in the adult female rat is sensitive to estradiol manipulation and fluctuates naturally as the levels of ovarian steroids vary during the 5 d estrous cycle. In both cases, low levels of estradiol are correlated with lower synapse density, while high est...
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The rat dentate gyrus undergoes a period of naturally occurring cell death during the first postnatal week. In the adult rat, removal of circulating adrenal steroids by adrenalectomy is followed by massive death in the granule cell layer, thus raising the possibility that developmental cell death results from low levels of these hormones. Interesti...
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Unlike the majority of mammalian brain regions, the rat dentate gyrus undergoes maximal cell birth and cell death during the same developmental time period. Granule cell birth and death peak at the end of the first postnatal week. We have found that manipulations of glucocorticoid levels during the stress hyporesponsive period profoundly influence...
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Steroid and thyroid hormone receptors are expressed in the developing brain and persist throughout adult life. They mediate a variety of effects on the brain, ranging from developmental effects of thyroid hormone and the process of sexual differentiation to the cyclic changes during reproductive cycles in adult female animals. This review summarize...
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Previous studies have shown that granule cells of the adult dentate gyrus require adrenal steroids for their survival. In order to investigate whether activation of type I or type II adrenal steroid receptors can mediate granule cell survival, we have analyzed the density of pyknotic cells in the granule cell, CA1 and CA3 pyramidal cell layers in N...
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The rat dentate gyrus is a unique brain structure in that most of its neurons are born postnatally. Cell death is known to be an important phenomenon in brain development and yet it is at present unknown whether the dentate gyrus undergoes a period of naturally occurring cell death. In order to determine whether or not cell death plays a role in th...
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The hippocampal formation is of considerable interest due to its proposed role in a number of important functions, including learning and memory processes. Manipulations of thyroid, gonadal and adrenal hormones have been shown to influence hippocampal physiology as well as learning and memory. The cellular events which underlie these hormone-induce...
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We have used Golgi-impregnated tissue to demonstrate that apical dendritic spine density in CA1 hippocampal pyramidal cells undergoes a cyclic fluctuation as estradiol and progesterone levels vary across the estrous cycle in the adult female rat. We observed a 30% decrease in apical dendritic spine density over the 24-hr period between the late pro...
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We have used Golgi-impregnated tissue to demonstrate that exposure to excess glucocorticoids alters dendritic morphology in a specific population of neurons in the adult rat hippocampus. Daily injection of 10 mg of corticosterone for 21 days resulted in decreased numbers of apical dendritic branch points and decreased total apical dendritic length...
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We measured proenkephalin (PEK) mRNA levels in the anterior and medial aspects of the caudate-putamen (CPU) and in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) of the rat by in situ hybridization histochemistry after chronic treatment for 21 days with typical (haloperidol and prolixin) and atypical (molindone, thioridazine, and clozapine) neuroleptics. Chronic admi...
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Neurons in the adult rat ventromedial hypothalamic nucleus (VMN, 4-6 neurons per brain; 3-7 brains per group) were studied under various hormonal conditions using the single-section Golgi impregnation technique. Intact rats of both sexes and ovariectomized females treated with oil, estrogen or estrogen and progesterone were used. Golgi-impregnated...
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Gonadal steroids are known to influence hippocampal physiology in adulthood. It is presently unknown whether gonadal steroids influence the morphology of hippocampal neurons in the adult intact rat brain. In order to determine whether female sex hormones influence hippocampal morphology in the intact adult, we performed Golgi impregnation on brains...
Article
In order to determine whether short-term glucocorticoid manipulations influence the morphology and survival of neurons in the adult mammalian hippocampal formation, we performed quantitative analyses of Golgi-impregnated and Nissl-stained tissue from the brains of sham operated male rats, adrenalectomized male rats and adrenalectomized male rats wh...