Neurons of the medial preoptic area were studied in the brain of the female rat by means of ultrastructural immunocytochemistry using a monoclonal antibody generated against purified estrogen receptor (ER), in order to delineate the morphological correlates of estrogen feedback mechanisms. In addition to the preoptic area, the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, the arcuate and ventromedial nuclei of the hypothalamus exhibited an intense labelling for estrogen receptor. At the light microscopic level, the cell nuclei were immunoreactive. No major alterations were detected in the ER expression of medial preoptic neurons sampled during the estrous cycle, but proestrous rats did exhibit a slightly increased intensity of staining. At the ultrastructural level, the ER immunoreactivity was primarily confined to the nuclei and associated with the chromatin. Long term steroid deprivation elicited by either ovariectomy or ovariectomy plus adrenalectomy resulted in a marked intensity of nuclear labelling. This pattern was not influenced by acute estradiol replacement. These morphological data indicate that neurons of the medial preoptic area have the capacity to detect estrogens via receptor mechanisms and that changes in the level of the circulating ligand are manifested in an alteration in the staining for the estrogen receptor. The study also supports the revised concept of estrogen receptor action by demonstrating the presence of receptors in the nuclei of the cells, whether or not they are occupied by their ligand.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)