Calcitonin receptor signaling in the medial preoptic area enables risk-taking maternal care

Chihiro Yoshihara, Kenichi Tokita, Teppo Maruyama, Misato Kaneko, Yousuke Tsuneoka, Kansai Fukumitsu, Eri Miyazawa, Kazutaka Shinozuka, Arthur J. Huang, Katsuhiko Nishimori, Thomas J. McHugh, Minoru Tanaka, Shigeyoshi Itohara, Kazushige Touhara, Kazunari Miyamichi, Kumi O. Kuroda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Maternal mammals exhibit heightened motivation to care for offspring, but the underlying neuromolecular mechanisms have yet to be clarified. Here, we report that the calcitonin receptor (Calcr) and its ligand amylin are expressed in distinct neuronal populations in the medial preoptic area (MPOA) and are upregulated in mothers. Calcr+ MPOA neurons activated by parental care project to somatomotor and monoaminergic brainstem nuclei. Retrograde monosynaptic tracing reveals that significant modification of afferents to Calcr+ neurons occurs in mothers. Knockdown of either Calcr or amylin gene expression hampers risk-taking maternal care, and specific silencing of Calcr+ MPOA neurons inhibits nurturing behaviors, while pharmacogenetic activation prevents infanticide in virgin males. These data indicate that Calcr+ MPOA neurons are required for both maternal and allomaternal nurturing behaviors and that upregulation of amylin-Calcr signaling in the MPOA at least partially mediates risk-taking maternal care, possibly via modified connectomics of Calcr+ neurons postpartum.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109204
JournalCell Reports
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 01-06-2021
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology


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