Anatomical relationships between aromatase and tyrosine hydroxylase in the quail brain: Double-label immunocytochemical studies

Jacques Balthazart, Agnes Foidart, Michelle Baillien, Nobuhiro Harada, Gregory F. Ball

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The activation of male sexual behavior in Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica) requires the transformation of testosterone to 17β-estradiol by the enzyme aromatase (estrogen synthetase). There are prominent sex differences in aromatase activity that may be regulated in part by sex differences in catecholaminergic activity. In this study, we investigate, with double-label immunocytochemistry methods, the anatomical relationship between the catecholamine synthesizing enzyme, tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) and aromatase (ARO) in the quail brain. The immunoreactivity observed for each antigen generally matched the previously described distribution. One exception is the observation that cells weakly labeled for aromatase were found widely distributed throughout the telencephalon. The presence of telencephalic aromatase was confirmed independently by radioenzymatic assays. There was an extensive overlap between the distribution of the two antigens in many brain areas. In all densely labeled aromatase-immunoreactive (ARO- ir) cell groups, including the preoptic medial nucleus, nucleus of the stria terminalis, mediobasal hypothalamus, and paleostriatum ventrale, ARO-ir cells were found in close association with TH-ir fibers. These TH-ir fibers often converged on an ARO-ir cell, and one or more TH-ir punctate structure(s) were found in close contact with nearly every densely labeled ARO-ir cell. In the telencephalon (mostly the neostriatum), all TH-ir fibers were found to be part of fiber groups that surrounded weakly immunoreactive aromatase cells. The few cells exhibiting an intracellular colocalization were detected in the anteroventral periventricular nucleus. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that catecholaminergic inputs regulate brain aromatase.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)214-226
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 9 1998


  • Catecholamines
  • Dopamine
  • Japanese quail
  • Medial preoptic nucleus
  • Norepinephrine
  • Sexual behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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