c-Fos expression in female hamster brain following sexual and aggressive behaviors

M. A. Joppa, R. L. Meisel, M. A. Garber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


The goal of these experiments was to use c-Fos immunocytochemistry to determine areas of the female hamster brain that are active during lordosis and aggression. Ovariectomized hamsters were given (i) estradiol and progesterone, plus a lordosis test, (ii) estradiol and progesterone, but no lordosis test, (iii) oil, plus an aggressive behavior test, or (iv) oil, but no behavior test. Results showed that following lordosis, there was increased c-Fos expression in the medial bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, medial accumbens, medial preoptic nucleus, paraventricular nucleus and medial amygdala. Following a single aggression test, c-Fos was significantly increased only within the medial amygdala. There was no effect of lordosis or aggression on c-Fos expression within the lateral or central ventromedial hypothalamus, suprachiasmatic nucleus or dorsal midbrain central gray. In a second experiment, ovariectomized female hamsters were given (i) repeated aggressive experience, (ii) a single aggression test or (iii) no aggression test. Because some females were not aggressive towards males, they became a separate group post hoc. The number of cells expressing c-Fos was higher in the medial preoptic nucleus and medial amygdala of females given a single aggressive test and in non-aggressive females vs control females. Females given prior aggressive experience showed higher c-Fos expression only in the medial preoptic nucleus. These results demonstrate that increased neural activation in several forebrain nuclei is seen after sexual or aggressive behaviors in female hamsters. However, because the pattern of c-Fos staining in the non-aggressive females was similar to the pattern in aggressive females, this questions previous conclusions regarding the behavioral specificity of these effects and suggests instead that such activation is common to social interactions in general.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)783-792
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 1995
Externally publishedYes


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