Cell-type specific increases in female hamster nucleus accumbens spine density following female sexual experience

Nancy A. Staffend, Valerie L. Hedges, Benjamin R. Chemel, Val J. Watts, Robert L Meisel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Female sexual behavior is an established model of a naturally motivated behavior which is regulated by activity within the mesolimbic dopamine system. Repeated activation of the mesolimbic circuit by female sexual behavior elevates dopamine release and produces persistent postsynaptic alterations to dopamine D1 receptor signaling within the nucleus accumbens. Here we demonstrate that sexual experience in female Syrian hamsters significantly increases spine density and alters morphology selectively in D1 receptor-expressing medium spiny neurons within the nucleus accumbens core, with no corresponding change in dopamine receptor binding or protein expression. Our findings demonstrate that previous life experience with a naturally motivated behavior has the capacity to induce persistent structural alterations to the mesolimbic circuit that can increase reproductive success and are analogous to the persistent structural changes following repeated exposure to many drugs of abuse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2071-2081
Number of pages11
JournalBrain Structure and Function
Volume219
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014

Keywords

  • Dendrite
  • Dopamine receptor
  • Lordosis
  • Motivation
  • Synaptic plasticity

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