Sex Differences in Striatal Neurons



Dr. John Meitzen; Professor, North Carolina University

December 1 in the Fralin Auditorium, Fralin Hall 102

Hosted by Dr. Christopher Thompson



Sex plays a complicated and still largely unknown role in modulating neuron function. This includes neurons regulating behaviors that are not sex-specific, including motivated behavior, reward, and sensorimotor function in both normal and pathological contexts. Investigations into the mechanisms underlying these behaviors have targeted the striatal brain regions, including the caudate-putamen, nucleus accumbens core and shell. Indeed, the output neurons of the striatum, the medium spiny neurons, exhibit hormone sensitivity and sex differences in select electrophysiological properties.  Here I will discuss the current state of knowledge regarding sex differences in medium spiny neuron electrophysiological properties across striatal regions, including evidence for estradiol-mediated sexual differentiation in the nucleus accumbens core.  Sex differences in the striatum vary by region and developmental stage.  Thus, despite possessing the same neuron types, striatal regions exhibit considerable heterogeneity in the nature of sex differences in MSN electrophysiological properties, creating a complex and challenging phenotype. These data are important for not only understanding how sex regulates striatal neuron function and related behaviors, but also as a roadmap illustrating how investigators can address the role of sex in their own experiments.

cao et al 2016.pdf Neonatal Masculinization Blocks Increased Excitatory Synaptic Input in Female Rat Nucleus Accumbens Core
Dorris et al 2015.pdf Intrinsic excitability varies by sex in prepubertal striatal medium spiny neurons
Willett et al 2016.pdf No Evidence for Sex Differences in the Electrophysiological Properties and Excitatory Synaptic Input onto Nucleus Accumbens Shell Medium Spiny Neurons

This seminar will be livestreamed here. The video will be archived on this page, and on the Fralin Life Science Institute YouTube channel.

Meitzen Flyer