Social interaction and cortisol treatment increase cell addition and radial glia fiber density in the diencephalic periventricular zone of adult electric fish, Apteronotus leptorhynchus

Kent D. Dunlap, James F. Castellano, Erealda Prendaj

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

33 Scopus citations


In electric fish, Apteronotus leptorhynchus, both long-term social interaction and cortisol treatment potentiates chirping, an electrocommunication behavior that functions in aggression. Chirping is controlled by the diencephalic prepacemaker nucleus (PPn-C) located just lateral to the ventricle. Cells born in adult proliferative zones such as the periventricular zone (PVZ) can migrate along radial glial fibers to other brain regions, including the PPn-C. We examined whether social interactions or cortisol treatment influenced cell addition and radial glia fiber formation by (1) pairing fish (4 or 7 days) or (2) implanting fish with cortisol (7 or 14 days). Adult fish were injected with bromodeoxyuridine 3 days before sacrifice to mark cells that were recently added. Other fish were sacrificed after 1 or 7 days of treatment to examine vimentin immunoreactivity (IR), a measure of radial glial fiber density. Paired fish had more cell addition than isolated fish at 7 days, coinciding temporally with the onset of socially induced increase in chirping behavior. Paired fish also had higher vimentin IR at 1 and 7 days. For both cell addition and vimentin IR, the effect was regionally specific, increasing in the PVZ adjacent to the PPn-C, but not in surrounding regions. Cortisol increased cell addition at 7 days, correlating with the onset of cortisol-induced changes in chirping, and in a regionally specific manner. Cortisol for 14 days increased cell addition, and cortisol for 7 days increased vimentin IR but in a regionally non-specific manner. The correlation between treatment-induced changes in chirping and regionally specific increases in cell addition, and radial glial fiber formation suggests a causal relationship between such behavioral and brain plasticity in adults, but this hypothesis will require further testing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10-17
Number of pages8
JournalHormones and Behavior
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2006
Externally publishedYes



  • Apteronotus leptorhynchus
  • BrdU
  • Cell addition
  • Cortisol
  • Electric fish
  • Electrocommunication
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Radial glia
  • Social behavior
  • Vimentin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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