Brain Distribution and Sexually Dimorphic Expression of Amylin in Different Reproductive Stages of the Zebra Finch (Taeniopygia guttata) Suggest Roles of the Neuropeptide in Song Learning and Social Behaviour

Gergely Zachar, Catherine Montagnese, Emese A. Fazekas, Róbert G. Kemecsei, Szilvia M. Papp, Fanni Dóra, Éva Renner, András Csillag, Ákos Pogány, Arpád Dobolyi

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The expression of the recently identified neuropeptide, amylin, is restricted in rodents to the postpartum preoptic area and may play a role in the control of parental behaviours and food intake. These processes are substantially different between bird and rodent parents as birds do not lactate but often show biparental care of the offspring. To establish the presence and role of amylin in the bird brain, in the present study, we investigated the distribution of amylin in brains of adult male and female zebra finches in three different reproductive stages (i.e. paired without young, incubating eggs or provisioning nestlings) and in unpaired control birds living in same sex flocks. Amylin mRNA was identified in the hypothalamus of zebra finch by RT-PCR, which was also used to produce probes for in situ hybridisation. Subsequently, in situ hybridisation histochemistry was performed in brain sections, and the labelling signal was quantified and compared between the groups. Amylin showed a much wider brain distribution than that of rodents. A strong and, in some regions, sexually dimorphic label was found in the striatum and several brain regions of the social behavioural network in both males and females. Many regions responsible for the learning of birdsong also contained amylin-positive neurons, and some regions showed sex differences reflecting the fact that vocalisation is sexually dimorphic in the zebra finch: only males sing. Area X (Ar.X), a striatal song centre present only in males, was labelled in paired but not unpaired male. Ar.X, another song centre, the lateral part of the magnocellular nucleus of the anterior nidopallium (lMAN) also contained amylin and had higher amylin label in paired, as opposed to unpaired birds. The wider distribution of amylin in birds as compared to rodents suggests a more general role of amylin in social or other behaviours in avian species than in mammals. Alternatively, parental care in birds may be a more complex behavioural trait involving a wider set of brain regions. The sex differences in song centres, and the changes with reproductive status suggest a participation of amylin in social behaviours and related changes in the singing of males.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1401
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - Jan 13 2020



  • avian brain
  • hypothalamus
  • offspring
  • parenting
  • social brain network
  • song system
  • songbird
  • vocalisation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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