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Anatomical distribution of sex steroid hormone receptors in the brain of female medaka



Estrogen and androgen play crucial roles in coordinating reproductive functions through estrogen receptors (ERs) and androgen receptors (ARs), respectively. These receptors are considered important for regulation of the hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis. Despite their biological importance, the distribution of sex steroid receptors has not been fully analyzed anatomically in the teleost brain. The teleosts have many characteristic features, which allow unique approaches toward an understanding of the regulatory mechanisms of reproductive functions. Medaka serves as a good model system for studying the mechanisms by which steroid receptor-mediated systems are regulated, because 1) their breeding conditions can be easily manipulated; 2) we can take advantage of the genome database; and 3) molecular genetic tools, such as transgenic techniques, are applicable. We analyzed the distribution of ERα, ERβ1, ERβ2, ARα, and ARβ mRNA by in situ hybridization in the brain of female medaka. We found that all subtypes of ERs and ARs were expressed in the following nuclei: the dorsal part of the ventral telencephalic area (Vd), supracommissural part of the ventral telencephalic area (Vs), postcommissural part of the ventral telencephalic area (Vp), preoptic area (POA), and nucleus ventralis tuberis (NVT). These regions are known to be involved in the regulation of sexual behavior (Vd, Vs, Vp, POA) or the HPG axis (NVT). These ER- and/or AR-expressing neurons may regulate sexual behavior or the HPG axis according to their axonal projections. Future analysis should be targeted to the neurons described in the present study to extend our understanding of the central regulatory mechanisms of reproduction. J. Comp. Neurol. 521:1760–1780, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.