Rats place their tails underneath their bodies in the cold (tail-hiding behavior), which is a behavioral indicator of thermoregulation. The aim of the present study was to elucidate the effect of estradiol (E2) on tail-hiding behavior and neural activity assessed by immunohistochemistry. Ovariectomized rats were implanted with a silastic tube with or without E2 underneath the dorsal skin (E2(−) and E2(+) groups), and exposed to 27 °C, 16 °C, and 10 °C for 2 h with continuous body temperature (Tb), tail skin temperature (Ttail), and behavioral measurements. cFos immunoreactive (cFos-IR) cells in the insula, secondary somatosensory cortex, medial preoptic nucleus, parastrial nucleus, amygdala, and lateral parabrachial nucleus were counted. Tb and Ttail were not different between the E2(−) and E2(+) groups. At 16 °C, the duration and the onset of tail-hiding behavior in the E2(+) group were greater than that in the E2(−) group. The number of cFos-IR cells in the insula of the E2(−) group was greater than that of the E2(+) group in rats kept at 16 °C. E2 might modulate tail-hiding behavior of female rats at 16 °C, and the insula may be involved in the response.
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