Data for: Microglia phagocytosis determines the volume and function of the rat Sexually Dimorphic Nucleus of the Preoptic Area
Pickett, Lindsay; VanRyzin, Jonathan; Marquardt, Ashley; McCarthy, Margaret (2023), Data for: Microglia phagocytosis determines the volume and function of the rat Sexually Dimorphic Nucleus of the Preoptic Area, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.qbzkh18nj
The Sexually Dimorphic Nucleus of the Preoptic Area (SDN-POA) is the oldest and most robust sex difference reported in mammalian brain and is singular for its presence across a wide range of species from rodents to ungulates to man. This small collection of Nissl dense neurons is reliably larger in volume in males. Yet, despite its notoriety and intense interrogation, both the mechanism establishing the sex difference and the functional role of the SDN have remained elusive. Convergent evidence from rodent studies led to the conclusion that testicular androgens aromatized to estrogens are neuroprotective in males and that higher apoptosis (naturally occurring cell death) in females determines their smaller SDN. In several species, including humans, a smaller SDN correlates with a preference for mating with males. We report here that this volume difference is dependent upon a participatory role of phagocytic microglia which engulf more neurons in the female SDN and assure their destruction . Selectively blocking microglia phagocytosis temporarily spared neurons from apoptotic death and increased SDN volume in females without hormone treatment. Increasing the number of neurons in the SDN in neonatal females resulted in loss of preference for male odors in adulthood, an effect paralleled by dampened excitation of SDN neurons as evidenced by reduced IEG expression when exposed to male urine. Thus, the mechanism establishing a sex difference in SDN volume includes an essential role for microglia, and SDN function as a regulator of sexual partner preference is confirmed.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Award: F31NS093947
National Institute of Mental Health, Award: F31MH123025
National Institute on Drug Abuse, Award: R01DA039062
National Institute of Mental Health, Award: R01MH52716