Progesterone receptor expression in the brain of the socially monogamous and paternal male prairie vole.

Brain research

PubMedID: 23318255

Williams B, Northcutt KV, Rusanowsky RD, Mennella TA, Lonstein JS, Quadros-Mennella PS. Progesterone receptor expression in the brain of the socially monogamous and paternal male prairie vole. Brain Res. 2013;149912-20.
Differences in the social organization and behavior of male mammals are attributable to species differences in neurochemistry, including differential expression of steroid hormone receptors. However, the distribution of progestin receptors (PR) in a socially monogamous and spontaneously parental male rodent has never been examined. Here we determined if PR exists and is regulated by testicular hormones in forebrain sites traditionally influencing socioreproductive behaviors in male prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster). We hypothesized that PR expression in male prairie voles would differ from that described in other male rodents because PR activity inhibits parental behaviors and social memory in laboratory mice and rats. Adult male prairie voles received a sham surgery, were gonadectomized, or were gonadectomized and implanted with a testosterone-filled capsule. PR immunoreactivity (PRir) was measured four weeks later in areas of the hypothalamus and extended amygdala. A group of gonadally intact female prairie voles was included to reveal possible sex differences. We found considerable PRir in all sites examined. Castration reduced PRir in males' medial preoptic nucleus, anteroventral periventricular nucleus, ventromedial hypothalamus, and posterodorsal medial amygdala, and it was maintained in these sites by testosterone. This is the first study to examine PR expression in brain sites involved in socioreproductive behaviors in a socially monogamous and spontaneously paternal male rodent. Our results mostly reveal cross-species conservation in the distribution and hormone sensitivity of PR expression. Because PR interferes with aspects of sociality in other male rodents, PR may eventually be found to have different neurobiological actions in male prairie voles.