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Aromatase immunolocalization and activity in the lizard's brain: Dynamic changes during the reproductive cycle

Santillo, Alessandra, Rosati, Luigi, Prisco, Marina, Chieffi Baccari, Gabriella, Andreuccetti, Piero, Falvo, Sara, Di Fiore, Maria Maddalena
Comptes rendus 2019
Podarcis, aromatase, estradiol, immunohistochemistry, lizards, males, preoptic area, reproduction, reproductive behavior, testosterone
The purpose of the present study is to highlight the role of aromatase in the neuroendocrine control of the reproductive cycle of the male lizard Podarcis sicula during the three significant phases, i.e. the pre-reproductive, reproductive, and post-reproductive stages. Using immunohistochemical, biochemical, and hormonal tools, we have determined the localization and the activity of P450 aromatase (P450 aro) in the lizard's brain together with the determination of hormonal profile of sex steroids, i.e. testosterone and 17β-estradiol. The present data demonstrated that the localization of P450 is shown in brain regions involved in the regulation of the reproductive behavior (medial septum, preoptic area, and hypothalamus). Its activity, as well as the intensity of the signal, is modified according to the period of reproduction, resulting in functional dynamic changes. P450 aro activity and signal intensity decrease in the pre-reproductive period and progressively increase during the reproductive stage until it reaches the maximum peak level at the post-reproductive phase. P450 aro determines a local estrogen synthesis, balancing the testosterone and estradiol levels, and therefore its role is crucial, since it plays an important role in the neuroendocrine/behavioral regulation of the reproductive processes in the male lizard P. sicula.