Sex differences in catechol contents in the olfactory bulb of control and unilaterally deprived rats

Eur J Neurosci. 2007 Mar;25(5):1517-28. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2007.05407.x.


The dopaminergic system plays important roles in the modulation of olfactory transmission. The present study examines the distribution of dopaminergic cells and the content of dopamine (DA) and its metabolites in control and deprived olfactory bulbs (OB), focusing on the differences between sexes. The content of DA and of its metabolites, dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC) and homovanillic acid (HVA), were measured by HPLC. The morphology and distribution of dopaminergic neurons were studied using tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) immunohistochemistry. Cells were typified with TH-parvalbumin, TH-cholecystokinin or TH-neurocalcin double-immunofluorescence assays. Biochemical analyses revealed sex differences in the content of DA and of its metabolites. In normal conditions, the OBs of male rats had higher concentrations of DA, DOPAC and HVA than the OBs of females. The immunohistochemical data pointed to sex differences in the number of TH-immunopositive cells (higher in male than in female rats). Colocalization analyses revealed that dopaminergic cells constitute a different cell subpopulation from those labelled after parvalbumin, cholecystokinin or neurocalcin immunostaining. Unilateral olfactory deprivation caused dramatic alterations in the dopaminergic system. The DA content and the density of dopaminergic cells decreased, the contents of DA and DOPAC as well as TH immunoreactivity were similar in deprived males and females and, finally, the metabolite/neurotransmitter ratio increased. Our results show that the dopaminergic modulation of olfactory transmission seems to differ between males and females and that it is regulated by peripheral olfactory activity. A possible role of the dopaminergic system in the sexually different olfactory sensitivity, discrimination and memory is discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3,4-Dihydroxyphenylacetic Acid / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Catechols / metabolism*
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid / methods
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Homovanillic Acid / metabolism
  • Male
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism
  • Olfactory Bulb / metabolism*
  • Pregnancy
  • Rats
  • Sensory Deprivation / physiology*
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase / metabolism


  • Catechols
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • 3,4-Dihydroxyphenylacetic Acid
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase
  • catechol
  • Dopamine
  • Homovanillic Acid