Inês C. Dias,* Nicolas Gutierrez-Castellanos,* Liliana Ferreira, and Susana Q. Limacorresponding author


Champalimaud Research, Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown, Av. Brasília s/n, 1400-038, Lisboa, Portugal


Electrophysiology, Neuroscience


"Sex hormone levels continuously fluctuate across the reproductive cycle, changing the activity of neuronal circuits to coordinate female behavior and reproductive capacity. The ventrolateral division of the ventromedial hypothalamus (VMHvl) contains neurons expressing receptors for sex hormones and its function is intimately linked to female sexual receptivity. However, recent findings suggest that the VMHvl is functionally heterogeneous. Here, we used whole recordings and intracellular labeling to characterize the electrophysiological and morphologic properties of individual VMHvl neurons in naturally cycling females and report the existence of multiple electrophysiological phenotypes within the VMHvl. We found that the properties of progesterone receptor expressing (PR+) neurons, but not PR– neurons, depended systematically on the neuron’s location along the anterior-posterior (AP) axis of the VMHvl and the phase within the reproductive cycle. Prominent among this, the resting membrane potential of anterior PR+ neurons decreased during the receptive phase, while the excitability of medial PR+ neurons increased during the non-receptive phase. During the receptive phase of the cycle, posterior PR+ neurons simultaneously showed an increase in dendritic complexity and a decrease in spine density. These findings reveal an extensive diversity of local rules driving structural and physiological changes in response to fluctuating levels of sex hormones, supporting the anatomic and functional subdivision of the VMHvl and its possible role in the orchestration of different aspects of female socio-sexual behavior.



Whole-cell recordings were made under a SliceScope Pro (Scientifica) microscope with the slices submerged in ACSF. A beam of blue light generated with a LED illumination system (CoolLED, pE300) was passed through an immersion objective (Olympus, 40×) to achieve wide field illumination of the slice.

Product Associated Features

The broad spectrum pE-300white and pE-300ultra offer individual channel control, high-speed TTL triggering and software integration, for highly controllable illumination for widefield fluorescence microscopy when used alongside electrophsyiology recordings.

Product Type

pE-300white, pE-300lite, pE-300ultra



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