Sex differences in the excitatory synaptic transmission of the rat basolateral amygdala



The basolateral amygdala (BLA), a limbic area massively connected to cortical and subcortical structures, is at the interface of perception, emotion, and motor behavior. Its role in the processing of fearful and rewarding stimuli, as well as in emotional memory, is now well established. A growing body of evidence indicates sex differences in these functions. In addition, the BLA is implicated in the etiology of neuropsychiatric diseases, including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety, characterized by their higher prevalence and specific symptomatology in the female population. Although the study of the female brain and sex differences in preclinical research has recently gained momentum, sex differences in BLA function have mostly been studied in pathological rodent models and the physiological development of the female BLA remains partially understood. As the male rodent brain has been the default model for most preclinical studies, the objective of my thesis was to study the excitatory synapses of the rat BLA as a function of sex. My research work was organized around two main axes: 1) We compared the neuronal properties and excitatory transmission in the BLA of pubescent and adult rats of both sexes. Our work shows different maturation patterns of morpho-functional properties between male and female rats 2) The BLA and other brain regions involved in the integration of cognitive, emotional and motor functions such as the ventral hippocampus (vHipp) and nucleus accumbens (NAc) change during the estrous cycle. We used optogenetics to show that the estrous cycle preferentially impacts the vHipp->BLA pathway, leaving the vHipp->NAc pathway apparently intact. These results shed new light on how the estrous cycle contributes to sex and circuit specificity in the adult brain.



Rapporteure – Dr. Sophie Layé, Laboratoire NutriNeurO UMR 1286, Bordeaux
Rapporteur – Pr. Michel Vignes, Lab ‘Stress Oxydant et Neuroprotection’ , Montpellier
Examinateure – Dr. Julie Bakker, Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology GIGA, Liège – Belgique
Président de jury – Pr. Valéry Matarazzo, Inmed UMR1249, Marseille
Directeur de thèse- Dr. Olivier Manzoni, Inmed UMR1249, Marseille


Pauline Guily, team: Adolescence and developmental vulnerability to neuropsychiatric diseases – Pascale CHAVIS/Olivier MANZONIE

Thursday 16 December at 2pm

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