Phosphorylation of cAMP response element-binding protein in the extended amygdala of male rats is induced by novel environment and attenuated by estrous female-bedding.

OBJECTIVE: We examined whether female pheromone, which would be contained in female-soiled bedding, affected the expression of phosphorylated cAMP response element-binding protein-like (pCREB) immunoreactive cells in the extended amygdala.

METHODS: Male rats were exposed to following conditions: maintained in their home cage (home cage group), or relocated to a cage containing clean bedding (clean-bedding exposed group), ovariectomized (OVX) rat-soiled bedding (OVX-bedding exposed group) or estrogen-treated OVX rat-soiled bedding (OVX+E2-bedding exposed group). Rats were sacrificed 10-20 min after exposure and brain sections were subject to immunocytochemical processing.

RESULTS: In the medial subdivision of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BST) and the central amygdala (CeA), the number of pCREB immunoreactive (pCREB-ir) cells in the clean-bedding exposed group was significantly larger than in the home cage group, while the number of pCREB-ir cells in the OVX+E2-bedding exposed group did not differ from that in the home cage group. The bedding soiled by OVX rats was less effective. No significant difference in the number of pCREB-ir cells was detected in the other regions of the extended amygdala among all groups.

CONCLUSIONS: The present study suggests that the exposure of clean bedding to male rats induces the expression of pCREB-ir in the medial BST and the CeA; exposure to female pheromone attenuates this expression.

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