Modulation of Brain b-Endorphin Concentration by the Specific Part of the Y Chromosome in Mice


  • Botbol Michel
  • Roubertoux Pierre L.
  • Carlier Michèle
  • Trabado Severine
  • Brailly-Tabard Sylvie
  • Perez-Diaz Fernando
  • Bonnot Olivier
  • Bronsard Guillaume
  • Tordjman Sylvie

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Background: Several studies in animal models suggest a possible effect of the specific part of the Y-chromosome (Y NPAR) on brain opioid, and more specifically on brain b-endorphin (BE). In humans, male prevalence is found in autistic disorder in which observation of abnormal peripheral or central BE levels are also reported. This suggests gender differences in BE associated with genetic factors and more precisely with Y NPAR. Methodology/Principal Findings: Brain BE levels and plasma testosterone concentrations were measured in two highly inbred strains of mice, NZB/BlNJ (N) and CBA/HGnc (H), and their consomic strains for the Y NPAR. An indirect effect of the Y NPAR on brain BE level via plasma testosterone was also tested by studying the correlation between brain BE concentration and plasma testosterone concentration in eleven highly inbred strains. There was a significant and major effect (P,0.0001) of the Y NPAR in interaction with the genetic background on brain BE levels. Effect size calculated using Cohen's procedure was large (56% of the total variance). The variations of BE levels were not correlated with plasma testosterone which was also dependent of the Y NPAR. Conclusions/Significance: The contribution of Y NPAR on brain BE concentration in interaction with the genetic background is the first demonstration of Y-chromosome mediated control of brain opioid. Given that none of the genes encompassed by the Y NPAR encodes for BE or its precursor, our results suggest a contribution of the sex-determining region (Sry, carried by Y NPAR) to brain BE concentration. Indeed, the transcription of the Melanocortin 2 receptor gene (Mc2R gene, identified as the proopiomelanocortin receptor gene) depends on the presence of Sry and BE is derived directly from proopiomelanocortin. The results shed light on the sex dependent differences in brain functioning and the role of Sry in the BE system might be related to the higher frequency of autistic disorder in males.

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