Prolactin receptor (PRL-R) mRNA expression levels in the female rat brain (cerebrum) during pup contact stimulation were determined by the reverse transcription-PCR method. The high expression levels of long form PRL-R mRNA found in the brain of lactating rats were markedly reduced by removal of pups, and long form PRL-R mRNA levels were recovered by resumption of pup contact. Interestingly, pup contact stimuli of nulliparous virgin rats also markedly induced long form but not short form PRL-R mRNA expression in the brain in 1.3 days, together with the expression of maternal behaviour. In ovariectomized (OVX) or hypophysectomized (HYPOX) virgin rats, or in OVX plus HYPOX virgin rats, however, brain long form PRL-R mRNA was not significantly induced by pup contact stimuli for as long as 7 days, while maternal behaviour was finally expressed in these rats after 7 days of pup contact. The in situ hybridization experiments revealed that the long form PRL-R mRNA induced in virgin rats in contact with pups or in lactating rats was localized in the epithelial cells of the choroid plexus. No significant increase in mRNA was detected in other regions of the brain, such as the hypothalamus or cortex, in these maternal female rats. These results suggest that pup contact induces the expression of long form PRL-R mRNA in the choroid plexus of the brain in the presence of female sex steroid and pituitary hormones for the rapid expression of maternal behaviour. Our studies also suggested that maternal behaviour can be expressed in OVX or HYPOX rats after exposure to pups for 7 days without any significant increase in brain PRL-R mRNA expression.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism