Sex differences in olfactory-induced neural activation of the amygdala

Takefumi Kikusui, Mayu Kajita, Natsumi Otsuka, Tatsuya Hattori, Kanako Kumazawa, Akiyuki Watarai, Miho Nagasawa, Ayumu Inutsuka, Akihiro Yamanaka, Naoki Matsuo, Herbert E. Covington, Kazutaka Mogi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Olfactory signals, including the scent of urine, are thought to be processed by specific brain regions, such as the medial amygdala (Me), and regulate sexual behavior in a sex-dependent manner. We aimed to reveal the sex-specific neural circuit from the accessory olfactory bulb (AOB) to Me by using a transgenic mouse. We quantified the long-lasting green fluorescent protein (GFP) expression profile, which was controlled by the c-fos promotor in a sex-dependent manner by the scent of urine. Female urine predominantly activated neurons of the posterodorsal medial amygdala (MePD) in male mice and the posteroventral medial amygdala (MePV) in female mice. Male urine, in contrast, generated the opposite pattern of activation in the Me. Secondary, the selective artificial activation of these circuits was used to examine their specific behavioral function, by using a dual Cre-loxP viral infection. AAV-hSyn-FLEX-hM3Dq-EGFP–the designer receptor exclusively activated by a designer drug–was infused into the AOB after infection with trans-synaptic AAV(DJ)-CMV-mCherry-2A-Cre-TTC into either the MePD or the MePV. Double virus-transfected mice were injected with hM3Dq activator and their sexual behavior was monitored. However, selective activation of sex-dependent circuits, i.e., the AOB-MePD or AOB-MePV, did not significantly alter mounting or attack behavior in male mice. There were clear sex differences in the pheromone conveying circuits in the AOB-Me of mice. The sex-dependent functional activation of the Me, however, no effect on behavior. This suggests that a diverse number of nuclei and brain areas are likely to function in concert to successfully facilitate sexual and aggressive behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-104
Number of pages9
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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