Sex and laterality differences in medial amygdala neurons and astrocytes of adult mice

Daniel R. Pfau, Nicholas J. Hobbs, S. Marc Breedlove, Cynthia L. Jordan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The posterodorsal aspect of the medial amygdala (MePD) in rats is sexually dimorphic, being larger and containing more and larger neurons in males than in females. It is also highly lateralized, with the right MePD larger than the left in both sexes, but with the smaller left MePD actually containing more and larger neurons than the larger right. Astrocytes are also strikingly sexually differentiated, with male-biased numbers and lateralized favoring the right in the rat MePD. However, comparable information is scant for mice where genetic tools offer greater experimental power. Hence, we examined the MePD from adult male and female C57Bl/6J mice. We now report that the MePD is larger in males than in females, with the MePD in males containing more astrocytes and neurons than in females. However, we did not find sex differences in astrocyte complexity or overall glial number nor effects of laterality in either measure. While the mouse MePD is generally less lateralized than in rats, we did find that the sex difference in astrocyte number is only on the right because of a significant lateralization in females, with significantly fewer astrocytes on the right than the left but only in females. A sex difference in neuronal soma size favoring males was also evident, but only on the left. Sex differences in the number of neurons and astrocytes common to both rodent species may represent core morphological features that critically underlie the expression of sex-specific behaviors that depend on the MePD. J. Comp. Neurol. 524:2492–2502, 2016.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2492-2502
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Aug 15 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • GFAP
  • Nissl
  • glia
  • olfaction
  • sexual dimorphism
  • vomeronasal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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