Special Issue "Sex Differences in Brain Development"

A special issue of Brain Sciences (ISSN 2076-3425).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 December 2016).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Yu Ping Tang
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Psychology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA
Interests: sexual differentiation; neurogenesis; glia; neurotrophic factor; steroid hormone; gene expression; apoptosis; vertebrate; learning and memory; mental disorders

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Steroid hormones play key roles in normal brain development and are necessary for sexual differentiation of brain morphology, as well behavior during critical periods. Neonatal exposure to steroid hormones controls sex-specific development of brain structures (formation, neurogenesis, and apoptosis), and also changes in brain function and behavior (e.g., learning and memory). However, the cellular and molecular mechanisms of steroid hormone action in the brain largely remain unknown. In rodents, hormonal manipulation alone during the neonatal period can reverse sex differences in brain structures and behaviors. However, studies on songbirds suggest that other factors, such as sex-specific gene expression, are also likely to play important roles in sexual differentiation of brain development. Furthermore, exposure to environmental hormone disruptors, as well as other abuse substances, in early life, can affect normal brain development and cause devastating disorders, such as mental retardation, learning disabilities, and other relevant mental diseases, posing strong adverse effects on health.

The purpose of this Special Issue is to bring together studies from diverse backgrounds, in order to provide a broader view of sex differences in brain development and behavior, hopefully shedding some new light on how sex differences in brain development affect mental disorders differently.

Dr. Yu Ping Tang
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Brain Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • sexual dimorphism
  • steroid hormone
  • estrogen
  • gene expression
  • neurogenesis
  • glia
  • neurotrophic factor
  • brain development
  • mental disorders

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Open AccessArticle
The Relationship between Estrogen and Nitric Oxide in the Prevention of Cardiac and Vascular Anomalies in the Developing Zebrafish (Danio Rerio)
Brain Sci. 2016, 6(4), 51; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci6040051 - 26 Oct 2016
Cited by 2
Abstract
It has been known that both estrogen (E2) and nitric oxide (NO) are critical for proper cardiovascular system (CVS) function. It has also been demonstrated that E2 acts as an upstream effector in the nitric oxide (NO) pathway. Results from this study indicate [...] Read more.
It has been known that both estrogen (E2) and nitric oxide (NO) are critical for proper cardiovascular system (CVS) function. It has also been demonstrated that E2 acts as an upstream effector in the nitric oxide (NO) pathway. Results from this study indicate that the use of a nitric oxide synthase (NOS) inhibitor (NOSI) which targets specifically neuronal NOS (nNOS or NOS1), proadifen hydrochloride, caused a significant depression of fish heart rates (HR) accompanied by increased arrhythmic behavior. However, none of these phenotypes were evident with either the inhibition of endothelial NOS (eNOS) or inducible NOS (iNOS) isoforms. These cardiac arrhythmias could also be mimicked by inhibition of E2 synthesis with the aromatase inhibitor (AI), 4-OH-A, in a manner similar to that of nNOSI. In both scenarios, by using an NO donor (DETA-NO) in either NO + nNOSI or E2 + AI co-treatments, fish could be significantly rescued from decreased HR and increased arrhythmias. However, the addition of an NOS inhibitor (L-NAME) to the E2 + AI co-treatment fish prevented the rescue of low heart rates and arrhythmias, which strongly implicates the NO pathway as a downstream E2 targeted molecule for the maintenance of healthy cardiomyocyte contractile conditions in the developing zebrafish. Cardiac arrhythmias could be mimicked by the S-nitrosylation pathway inhibitor DTT (1,4-dithiothreitol) but not by ODQ (1H-[1–3]oxadiazolo[4,3-a]quinoxalin-1-one), the inhibitor of the NO receptor molecule sGC in the cGMP-dependent pathway. In both the nNOSI and AI-induced arrhythmic conditions, 100% of the fish expressed the phenotype, but could be rapidly rescued with maximum survival by a washout with dantrolene, a ryanodine Ca2+ channel receptor blocker, compared to the time it took for rescue using a control salt solution. In addition, of the three NOS isoforms, eNOS was the one most implicated in the maintenance of an intact developing fish vascular system. In conclusion, results from this study have shown that nNOS is the prominent isoform that is responsible, in part, for maintaining normal heart rates and prevention of arrhythmias in the developing zebrafish heart failure model. These phenomena are related to the upstream stimulatory regulation by E2. On the other hand, eNOS has a minimal effect and iNOS has little to no influence on this phenomenon. Data also suggests that nNOS acts on the zebrafish cardiomyocytes through the S-nitrosylation pathway to influence the SR ryanidine Ca2+ channels in the excitation-coupling phenomena. In contrast, eNOS is the prominent isoform that influences blood vessel development in this model. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sex Differences in Brain Development)
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Open AccessReview
Genes, Gender, Environment, and Novel Functions of Estrogen Receptor Beta in the Susceptibility to Neurodevelopmental Disorders
Brain Sci. 2017, 7(3), 24; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci7030024 - 23 Feb 2017
Cited by 14
Abstract
Many neurological disorders affect men and women differently regarding prevalence, progression, and severity. It is clear that many of these disorders may originate from defective signaling during fetal or perinatal brain development, which may affect males and females differently. Such sex-specific differences may [...] Read more.
Many neurological disorders affect men and women differently regarding prevalence, progression, and severity. It is clear that many of these disorders may originate from defective signaling during fetal or perinatal brain development, which may affect males and females differently. Such sex-specific differences may originate from chromosomal or sex-hormone specific effects. This short review will focus on the estrogen receptor beta (ERβ) signaling during perinatal brain development and put it in the context of sex-specific differences in neurodevelopmental disorders. We will discuss ERβ’s recent discovery in directing DNA de-methylation to specific sites, of which one such site may bear consequences for the susceptibility to the neurological reading disorder dyslexia. We will also discuss how dysregulations in sex-hormone signaling, like those evoked by endocrine disruptive chemicals, may affect this and other neurodevelopmental disorders in a sex-specific manner through ERβ. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sex Differences in Brain Development)
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Open AccessReview
Enduring, Sexually Dimorphic Impact of In Utero Exposure to Elevated Levels of Glucocorticoids on Midbrain Dopaminergic Populations
Brain Sci. 2017, 7(1), 5; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci7010005 - 30 Dec 2016
Cited by 5
Abstract
Glucocorticoid hormones (GCs) released from the fetal/maternal glands during late gestation are required for normal development of mammalian organs and tissues. Accordingly, synthetic glucocorticoids have proven to be invaluable in perinatal medicine where they are widely used to accelerate fetal lung maturation when [...] Read more.
Glucocorticoid hormones (GCs) released from the fetal/maternal glands during late gestation are required for normal development of mammalian organs and tissues. Accordingly, synthetic glucocorticoids have proven to be invaluable in perinatal medicine where they are widely used to accelerate fetal lung maturation when there is risk of pre-term birth and to promote infant survival. However, clinical and pre-clinical studies have demonstrated that inappropriate exposure of the developing brain to elevated levels of GCs, either as a result of clinical over-use or after stress-induced activation of the fetal/maternal adrenal cortex, is linked with significant effects on brain structure, neurological function and behaviour in later life. In order to understand the underlying neural processes, particular interest has focused on the midbrain dopaminergic systems, which are critical regulators of normal adaptive behaviours, cognitive and sensorimotor functions. Specifically, using a rodent model of GC exposure in late gestation (approximating human brain development at late second/early third trimester), we demonstrated enduring effects on the shape and volume of the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and substantia nigra pars compacta (SNc) (origins of the mesocorticolimbic and nigrostriatal dopaminergic pathways) on the topographical organisation and size of the dopaminergic neuronal populations and astrocytes within these nuclei and on target innervation density and neurochemical markers of dopaminergic transmission (receptors, transporters, basal and amphetamine-stimulated dopamine release at striatal and prefrontal cortical sites) that impact on the adult brain. The effects of antenatal GC treatment (AGT) were both profound and sexually-dimorphic, not only in terms of quantitative change but also qualitatively, with several parameters affected in the opposite direction in males and females. Although such substantial neurobiological changes might presage marked behavioural effects, in utero GC exposure had only a modest or no effect, depending on sex, on a range of conditioned and unconditioned behaviours known to depend on midbrain dopaminergic transmission. Collectively, these findings suggest that apparent behavioural normality in certain tests, but not others, arises from AGT-induced adaptations or compensatory mechanisms within the midbrain dopaminergic systems, which preserve some, but not all functions. Furthermore, the capacities for molecular adaptations to early environmental challenge are different, even opponent, in males and females, which may account for their differential resilience or failure to perform adequately in behavioural tests. Behavioural “normality” is thus achieved by the midbrain dopaminergic network operating outside its normal limits (in a state of allostasis), rendering it at greater risk to malfunction when challenged in later life. Sex-specific neurobiological programming of midbrain dopaminergic systems may, therefore, have psychopathological relevance for the sex bias commonly found in brain disorders associated with these systems, and which have a neurodevelopmental component, including schizophrenia, ADHD (attention/deficit hyperactivity disorders), autism, depression and substance abuse. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sex Differences in Brain Development)
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