Galanin neurons in the intermediate nucleus (InM) of the human hypothalamus in relation to sex, age, and gender identity

Alicia Garcia-Falgueras, Lisette Ligtenberg, Frank P M Kruijver, Dick F. Swaab

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    Abstract

    The intermediate nucleus (InM) in the preoptic area of the human brain, also known as the sexually dimorphic nucleus of the preoptic area (SDN-POA) and the interstitial nucleus of the anterior hypothalamus-1 (INAH-1) is explored here. We investigated its population of galanin-immunoreactive (Gal-Ir) neurons in relation to sex, age, and gender identity in the postmortem brain of 77 subjects. First we compared the InM volume and number of Gal-Ir neurons of 22 males and 22 females in the course of aging. In a second experiment, we compared for the first time the InM volume and the total and Gal-Ir neuron number in 43 subjects with different gender identities: 14 control males (M), 11 control females (F), 10 male-to-female (MtF) transsexual people, and 5 men who were castrated because of prostate cancer (CAS). In the first experiment we found a sex difference in the younger age group (<45 years of age), i.e., a larger volume and Gal-Ir neuron number in males and an age difference, with a decrease in volume and Gal-Ir neuron number in males > 45 years. In the second experiment the MtF transsexual group presented an intermediate value for the total InM neuron number and volume that did not seem different in males and females. Because the CAS group did not have total neuron numbers that were different from the intact males, the change in adult circulating testosterone levels does not seem to explain the intermediate values in the MtF group. Organizational and activational hormone effects on the InM are discussed. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)3061-3084
    JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
    Volume519
    Issue number15
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2011

    Keywords

    • Galanin
    • Gender identity
    • Human hypothalamus
    • Intermediate nucleus
    • Interstitial nucleus of the anterior hypothalamus-1
    • Preoptic area
    • Sexual dimorphism
    • Sexually dimorphic nucleus of the preoptic area
    • Transsexuality

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