Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Craig Howard Kinsley

Second Advisor

Dr. Kelly G. Lambert

Third Advisor

Dr. Frederick J. Kozub


Changes in reproductive state are accompanied by fluctuating levels of female gonadal hormones at higher levels and for longer periods of time than the normal estrus cycle. These hormones have been noted, in cell culture and over the regular estrus cycle, to influence structural changes in neurons and glial cells in areas of the brain associated with the conduct of maternal behavior. The purpose of this project was to characterize changes in GFAP immunoreactivity and astrocyte morphology in the mPOA and hippocampus as a function of reproductive state and female steroid hormone treatment. Results of this investigation noted an increases of GFAP expression as a function of reproductive state associated with greater degrees of circulating hormones. Stereological cell counts reveled no increase in the number of cells expressing GFAP among these treatment conditions. Morphological analyses of process length and astrocyte classifications were identified as the source of increased levels of GFAP expression. Morphological analysis also revealed a greater representation of astrocytes with large numbers of processes and longer processes in those treatment conditions that received higher levels of circulating female steroid hormones.

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