The medial preoptic nucleus (POM) of male Japanese quail is a sexually dimorphic testosterone-dependent structure that plays a key role in the activation of male sexual behavior. Both the total volume of the nucleus and the size of the dorsolateral neurons are decreased in gonadectomized males. Immunocytochemical studies have revealed a complex pattern of innervation: immunopositive fibers for several neuropeptides and neurotransmitters have been detected in the POM; some of them (e.g. vasotocin-immunoreactive fibers) are sexually dimorphic and testosterone-dependent To understand the anatomical bases of these testosterone-dependent neurochemical changes, we performed an ultrastructural study of the POM neuropil in intact sexually mature, gonadectomized, or testosterone-treated gonadectomized males. A complex synaptic organization of the POM neuropil was observed in intact male quail reflecting the heterogeneity of the neurotransmitters and neuropeptides present in this nucleus. Changes in this organization were observed after the endocrine manipulations. The number of axosomatic synapses per cell body decreased after gonadectomy and was restored to the level observed in the intact group after the administration of testosterone. By contrast, no significant change was observed in the density of axodendritic and axospinal synapses after hormonal manipulations which suggests that the total number of synapses in the nucleus should be affected by testosterone (constant density in a changing total volume). The cross-sectional area of synaptic boutons was also decreased by castration and restored to intact level by testosterone. The action of testosterone on the activation of male copulatory behavior in gonadectomized birds is hence paralleled by an extensive rearrangement of neuropil in the POM.
Effects of testosterone on the synaptology of the medial preoptic nucleus of male Japanese quail. / CASTAGNA C ;OBOLE A ;VIGLIETTI-PANZICA C ;BALTHAZART J ;PANZICA GC. - In: BRAIN RESEARCH BULLETIN. - ISSN 0361-9230. - 50(1999), pp. 241-249.