The sex hormone-dependent development of opiate receptors in the rat medial preoptic area

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80 Scopus citations


The opiate receptor content of the sexually dimorphic medial preoptic area (MPOA) was examined in newborn and 5-day-old (D6) male and female rats. A significant increase of [3H]naloxone binding was observed in and around the sexually dimorphic nucleus of the preoptic area (SDN-POA) in D6 female rats, relative to newborn females. Opiate receptor labeling did not increase over this period in males, nor was labeling different between males and females at birth. This dramatic alteration of MPOA opiate receptor content was observed to occur in either sex in the absence of testosterone postnatally; that is, neonatally-castrated males exhibited the same increase of labeling by D6 as did normal females. Conversely, daily postnatal testosterone treatment of females from birth to D6 resulted in the development of male-like MPOA opiate receptor pattern. The sex hormone-dependence of MPOA opiate receptor development is discussed in relation to the sex hormone-dependent ontogeny of SDN-POA structure. The overlap of critical periods for the development of these structural and chemical sexual dimorphisms suggests a role for endogenous opioids in modulating MPOA development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-74
Number of pages10
JournalBrain Research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Dec 23 1985
Externally publishedYes


  • development
  • medial preoptic area
  • opiate receptor
  • sex hormone
  • sexual dimorphism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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