Date of Award

12-2021

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Department

Biological Science

Advisor/Committee Chair

Damian Zuloaga

Major

Biology

Committee Member

Gregory Lnenicka

Abstract

Women are far more likely to develop anxiety and depression than men. It is believed that the dysregulation of the HPA axis by the binding of corticotropin -releasing factor (CRF) to the corticotropin-releasing factor receptor 1 (CRFR1) contributes to the likelihood of these stress- related disorders. Estrogens acting through Estrogen receptor alpha (ERa) have been shown to increase anxiety production upon activating the HPA axis. In this current study, we explored whether CRF-expressing neurons in various regions of the brain express ERa. The levels of ERa were counted in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BST), the medial preoptic nucleus (MPN), and the medial preoptic area (MPOA). We expect there to be differences in the expression of ERα between males and females within all 3 regions. ERα is suspected to act as a pathway for the CRF neurons to pass through which would amplify the stress response in females. If females have certain CRF-activated cells expressed disproportionately to males in different brain regions, this will provide further evidence that there are sex differences present in the mice. In the future, this would support the possibility of sex differences between men and women in terms of stress-related mood disorders considering CRF has been shown to have a relationship with stress responses in the brain.

Available for download on Wednesday, June 01, 2022

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