Molecular and Functional Sex Differences of Noradrenergic Neurons in the Mouse Locus Coeruleus.
Mulvey B., Bhatti DL., Gyawali S., Lake AM., Kriaucionis S., Ford CP., Bruchas MR., Heintz N., Dougherty JD.
Preclinical work has long focused on male animals, though biological sex clearly influences risk for certain diseases, including many psychiatric disorders. Such disorders are often treated by drugs targeting the CNS norepinephrine system. Despite roles for noradrenergic neurons in behavior and neuropsychiatric disease models, their molecular characterization has lagged. We profiled mouse noradrenergic neurons in vivo, defining over 3,000 high-confidence transcripts expressed therein, including druggable receptors. We uncovered remarkable sex differences in gene expression, including elevated expression of the EP3 receptor in females-which we leverage to illustrate the behavioral and pharmacologic relevance of these findings-and of Slc6a15 and Lin28b, both major depressive disorder (MDD)-associated genes. Broadly, we present a means of transcriptionally profiling locus coeruleus under baseline and experimental conditions. Our findings underscore the need for preclinical work to include both sexes and suggest that sex differences in noradrenergic neurons may underlie behavioral differences relevant to disease.