Estradiol reduces dendritic spine density in the ventral striatum of female Syrian hamsters

Brain Struct Funct. 2011 Jan;215(3-4):187-94. doi: 10.1007/s00429-010-0284-7. Epub 2010 Oct 16.


Estradiol affects a variety of brain regions by modulating physiological and cellular functions as well as neuronal morphology. Within the striatum, estradiol is known to induce physiological and molecular changes, yet estradiol's effects on striatal dendritic morphology have not yet been evaluated. Using ballistic delivery of the lipophilic dye DiI to tissue sections, we were able to evaluate estradiol's effects on striatal morphology in female Syrian hamsters. We found that estradiol significantly decreased spine density within the nucleus accumbens core, with no effect in the nucleus accumbens shell or caudate. Interestingly, estradiol treatment caused a significant deconstruction of spines from more to less mature spine subtypes in both the nucleus accumbens core and shell regardless of changes in spine density. These results are significant in that they offer a novel mechanism for estradiol actions on a wide variety of nucleus accumbens functions such as motivation or reward as well as their pathological consequences (e.g. drug addiction).

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basal Ganglia / drug effects*
  • Basal Ganglia / pathology
  • Caudate Nucleus / drug effects
  • Caudate Nucleus / pathology
  • Cricetinae
  • Dendrites / drug effects*
  • Dendrites / pathology
  • Estradiol / pharmacology*
  • Estrogens / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Mesocricetus
  • Nucleus Accumbens / drug effects
  • Nucleus Accumbens / pathology


  • Estrogens
  • Estradiol