Sex differences in hippocampal area CA3 pyramidal cells

J Neurosci Res. 2017 Jan 2;95(1-2):563-575. doi: 10.1002/jnr.23927.


Numerous studies have demonstrated differences between males and females in hippocampal structure, function, and plasticity. There also are many studies about the different predisposition of a males and females for disorders where the hippocampus plays an important role. Many of these reports focus on area CA1, but other subfields are also very important, and unlikely to be the same as area CA1 based on what is known. Here we review basic studies of male and female structure, function, and plasticity of area CA3 pyramidal cells of adult rats. The data suggest that the CA3 pyramidal cells of males and females are distinct in structure, function, and plasticity. These sex differences cannot be simply explained by the effects of circulating gonadal hormones. This view agrees with previous studies showing that there are substantial sex differences in the brain that cannot be normalized by removing the gonads and depleting peripheral gonadal hormones. Implications of these comparisons for understanding sex differences in hippocampal function and dysfunction are discussed. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Keywords: BDNF; androgen; estradiol; gonadectomy; plasticity; testosterone.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CA3 Region, Hippocampal / cytology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Sex Characteristics*