“Songbird brain synapses and glial cells capable of synthesizing estrogen”
Colin Saldanha, a biology professor at American University in Washington, D.C., has always been intrigued by the hormone estrogen. Specifically, how the hormone that does so much (for example, it promotes sexual behavior in women but can also increase susceptibility to seizures) does not cause major cross circuit meltdowns. (via)
Heh, yeah…define major. Ok, back to neuro/hormonal communication:
“In the extreme case, once every 28 days, women should be having seizures—and when they do, it’s a condition called Catamenial Epilepsy—but that’s obviously not the norm and there’s the mystery,” Saldanha said. “Somehow, the vertebrate body has figured out a way to produce and provide estrogen to precisely the right part of the body at precisely the right time.”
To attempt to find out how the bodies of animals and humans can do this, Saldanha has been studying the brains of songbirds—specifically, adult male zebra finches. Why adult male zebra finches? Male zebra finches sing, but the females do not. During the spring—mating season, when males court prospective mates with their songs—parts of the male birds’ brains nearly double in size only to shrink back to normal size in the fall when mating season has ended. Estrogen is behind the phenomenon. (via)
Note that these guys discovered and named synaptocrine estrogen synthesis and signaling process in ‘05 and recently found a 4th method of estrogen synthesis “synaptocrine signaling, or at the synapse.” Fascinating catalog of discoveries and a good read on a lab doin’ thangs and why it matters.