The Posterodorsal Medial Amygdala Regulates the Timing of Puberty Onset in Female Rats

XF Li, H Minghan, B P Hanley, Y Lin, L Poston, Stafford Lightman, K T O'Byrne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Obesity is the major risk factor for early puberty, but emerging evidence indicates other factors including psychosocial stress. One key brain region notable for its role in controlling calorie intake, stress, and behavior is the amygdala. Early studies involving amygdala lesions that included the medial nucleus advanced puberty in rats. More recently it was shown that a critical site for lesion-induced hyperphagia and obesity is the posterodorsal subnucleus of the medial amygdala (MePD), which may explain the advancement of puberty. Glutamatergic activity also increases in the MePD during puberty without a corresponding γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)ergic change, suggesting an overall activation of this brain region. In the present study, we report that neurotoxic lesioning of the MePD advances puberty and increases weight gain in female rats fed a normal diet. However, MePD lesioned rats fed a 25% nonnutritive bulk diet also showed the dramatic advancement of puberty but without the increase in body weight. In both dietary groups, MePD lesions resulted in an increase in socialization and a decrease in play fighting behavior. Chronic GABAA receptor antagonism in the MePD from postnatal day 21 for 14 days also advanced puberty, increased socialization, and decreased play fighting without altering body weight, whereas glutamate receptor antagonism delayed puberty and decreased socialization without affecting play fighting. In conclusion, our results suggest the MePD regulates the timing of puberty via a novel mechanism independent of change in body weight and caloric intake. MePD glutamatergic systems advance the timing of puberty whereas local GABAergic activation results in a delay.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3725-36
Number of pages12
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015


  • Amygdala
  • Animals
  • Bicuculline
  • Estrous Cycle
  • Female
  • GABA-A Receptor Antagonists
  • Pregnancy
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, GABA-A
  • Sexual Maturation
  • Social Behavior
  • Time Factors
  • Weight Gain
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid

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