A novel strategy to treat anxiety and fear-related disorders such as phobias, panic and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is combining CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), including extinction-based exposure therapy, with cognitive enhancers. By targeting and boosting mechanisms underlying learning, drug development in this field aims at designing CBT-augmenting compounds that help to overcome extinction learning deficits, promote long-term fear inhibition and thus support relapse prevention. Progress in revealing the role of epigenetic regulation of specific genes associated with extinction memory generation has opened new avenues in this direction. The present review examines recent evidence from pre-clinical studies showing that increasing histone acetylation, either via genetic or pharmacological inhibition of HDACs (histone deacetylases) by e.g. vorinostat/SAHA (suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid), entinostat/MS-275, sodium butyrate, TSA (trichostatin A) or VPA (valproic acid), or by targeting HATs (histone acetyltransferases), augments fear extinction and, importantly, generates a long-term extinction memory that can protect from return of fear phenomena. The molecular mechanisms and pathways involved including BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) and NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptor signalling are just beginning to be revealed. First studies in healthy humans are in support of extinction-facilitating effects of HDAC inhibitors. Very recent evidence that HDAC inhibitors can rescue deficits in extinction-memory-impaired rodents indicates a potential clinical utility of this approach also for exposure therapy-resistant patients. Important future work includes investigation of the long-term safety aspects of HDAC inhibitor treatment, as well as design of isotype(s)-specific inhibitors. Taken together, HDAC inhibitors display promising potential as pharmacological adjuncts to augment the efficacy of exposure-based approaches in anxiety and trauma therapy.
anxiolytic therapy; cognitive enhancer; epigenetics; histone acetyltransferase activator (HAT activator); histone deacetylase inhibitor (HDAC inhibitor); lysine acetylation; trauma; BDNF, brain-derived neurotrophic factor; CBP, CREB-binding protein; CBT, cognitive behavioural therapy; CoREST, co-repressor for element-1-silencing transcription factor; CREB, cAMP-response-element-binding protein; CS, conditioned stimulus; HAT, histone acetyltransferase; HDAC, histone deacetylase; NMDA, N-methyl-D-aspartate; NuRD, nucleosome remodelling and deacetylation; PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder; SAHA, suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid; SPS, single prolonged stress; SSRI, selective serotonin-re-uptake inhibitor; US, unconditioned stimulus; VPA, valproic acid
Anxiety disorders are characterized by persistent, excessive fear. Therapeutic interventions that reverse deficits in fear extinction represent a tractable approach to treating these disorders. We previously reported that 129S1/SvImJ (S1) mice show no extinction learning following normal fear conditioning. We now demonstrate that weak fear conditioning does permit fear reduction during massed extinction training in S1 mice, but reveals specific deficiency in extinction memory consolidation/retrieval. Rescue of this impaired extinction consolidation/retrieval was achieved with D-cycloserine (N-methly-D-aspartate partial agonist) or MS-275 (histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor), applied after extinction training. We next examined the ability of different drugs and non-pharmacological manipulations to rescue the extreme fear extinction deficit in S1 following normal fear conditioning with the ultimate aim to produce low fear levels in extinction retrieval tests. Results showed that deep brain stimulation (DBS) by applying high frequency stimulation to the nucleus accumbens (ventral striatum) during extinction training, indeed significantly reduced fear during extinction retrieval compared to sham stimulation controls. Rescue of both impaired extinction acquisition and deficient extinction consolidation/retrieval was achieved with prior extinction training administration of valproic acid (a GABAergic enhancer and HDAC inhibitor) or AMN082 [metabotropic glutamate receptor 7 (mGlu7) agonist], while MS-275 or PEPA (AMPA receptor potentiator) failed to affect extinction acquisition in S1 mice. Collectively, these data identify potential beneficial effects of DBS and various drug treatments, including those with HDAC inhibiting or mGlu7 agonism properties, as adjuncts to facilitate the outcome of exposure-based therapies for anxiety disorders.
Fear extinction; Metabotropic glutamate receptor; Epigenetics; HDAC inhibitor; Ventral striatum deep brain stimulation; NMDA receptor
Although exposure to major psychological trauma is unfortunately common, risk for related neuropsychiatric conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), varies greatly among individuals. Fear extinction offers a tractable and translatable behavioral readout of individual differences in learned recovery from trauma. Studies in rodent substrains and subpopulations are providing new insights into neural system dysfunctions associated with impaired fear extinction. Rapid progress is also being made in identifying key molecular circuits, epigenetic mechanisms, and gene variants associated with differences in fear extinction. Here, we discuss how this research is informing understanding of the etiology and pathophysiology of individual differences in risk for trauma-related anxiety disorders, and how future work can help identify novel diagnostic biomarkers and pharmacotherapeutics for these disorders.
extinction; anxiety; amygdala; prefrontal cortex; PTSD; cross-species translation
Molecular mechanisms which stabilize dendrites and dendritic spines are essential for regulation of neuronal plasticity in development and adulthood. The class of Nogo receptor proteins, which are critical for restricting neurite outgrowth inhibition signaling, have been shown to have roles in developmental, experience and activity induced plasticity. Here we investigated the role of the Nogo receptor homolog NgR2 in structural plasticity in a transgenic null mutant for NgR2. Using Golgi-Cox staining to analyze morphology, we show that loss of NgR2 alters spine morphology in adult CA1 pyramidal neurons of the hippocampus, significantly increasing mushroom-type spines, without altering dendritic tree complexity. Furthermore, this shift is specific to apical dendrites in distal CA1 stratum radiatum (SR). Behavioral alterations in NgR2−/− mice were investigated using a battery of standardized tests and showed that whilst there were no alterations in learning and memory in NgR2−/− mice compared to littermate controls, NgR2−/− displayed reduced fear expression in the contextual conditioned fear test, and exhibited reduced anxiety- and depression-related behaviors. This suggests that the loss of NgR2 results in a specific phenotype of reduced emotionality. We conclude that NgR2 has role in maintenance of mature spines and may also regulate fear and anxiety-like behaviors.
Nogo receptor; NgR2; dendritic spine; hippocampus; anxiety; fear conditioning
Anxiety disorders and substance use disorders are strongly associated in humans. Accordingly, a widely held but controversial concept in the addiction field, the so-called “self-medication hypothesis,” posits that anxious individuals are more vulnerable for drug dependence because they use drugs of abuse to alleviate their anxiety. We tested this hypothesis under controlled experimental conditions by quantifying the conditioned place preference (CPP) to 15 mg/kg i.p. cocaine given contingently (COCAINE) in CD1 mice selectively bred for high anxiety-related behavior (HAB) vs. normal anxiety-related behavior (NAB). Cocaine was conditioned to the initially non-preferred compartment in an alternate day design (cocaine vs. saline, four pairings each). HAB and NAB mice were also tested for the effects of non-contingent (NONCONT) cocaine administration. HAB mice showed a slightly higher bias for one of the conditioning compartments during the pretest than NAB mice that became statistically significant (p = 0.045) only after pooling COCAINE and NONCONT groups. Cocaine CPP was higher (p = 0.0035) in HAB compared to NAB mice. The increased cocaine CPP was associated with an increased expression of the immediate early genes (IEGs) c-Fos and Early Growth Related Protein 1 (EGR1) in the accumbens corridor, i.e., a region stretching from the anterior commissure to the interhemispheric border and comprising the medial nucleus accumbens core and shell, the major island of Calleja and intermediate part of the lateral septum, as well as the vertical limb of the diagonal band and medial septum. The cocaine CPP-induced EGR1 expression was only observed in D1- and D2-medium spiny neurons, whereas other types of neurons or glial cells were not involved. With respect to the activation by contingent vs. non-contingent cocaine EGR1 seemed to be a more sensitive marker than c-Fos. Our findings suggest that cocaine may be more rewarding in high anxiety individuals, plausibly due to an anxiolytic effect.
anxiety; cocaine CPP; accumbens corridor; D1-MSNs; D2-MSNs; Egr1; c-Fos
Multiple system atrophy (MSA) is a fatal, rapidly progressive neurodegenerative disease with limited symptomatic treatment options. Discrimination of MSA from other degenerative disorders crucially depends on the presence of early and severe cardiovascular autonomic failure (CAF). We have previously shown that neuropathologic lesions in the central autonomic nuclei similar to the human disease are present in transgenic MSA mice generated by targeted oligodendroglial overexpression of α-syn using the PLP promoter. We here explore whether such lesions result in abnormalities of heart rate variability (HRV) and circadian rhythmicity which are typically impaired in MSA patients.
HRV analysis was performed in five month old transgenic PLP-α-syn (tg) MSA mice and age-matched wild type controls. Decreased HRV and alterations in the circadian rhythmicity were detected in the tg MSA group. The number of choline-acetyltransferase-immunoreactive neurons in the nucleus ambiguus was significantly decreased in the tg group, whereas the levels of arginine-vasopressin neurons in the suprachiasmatic and paraventricular nucleus were not affected. Our finding of impaired HRV and circadian rhythmicity in tg MSA mice associated with degeneration of the nucleus ambiguus suggests that a cardinal non-motor feature of human MSA can be reproduced in the mouse model strengthening its role as a valuable testbed for studying selective vulnerability and assessing translational therapies.
► In the current study we assessed the cardiovascular phenotype of tg MSA mice. ► The α-syn-overexpressing MSA mice had decreased HRV. ► We detected depletion of cholinergic neurons in the nucleus ambiguus in MSA mice. ► The reduced HRV might be associated with neurodegeneration in the nucleus ambiguus.
PLP, proteolipid protein promoter; MSA, multiple system atrophy; MSA-P, parkinsonian variant of MSA; MSA-C, cerebellar variant of MSA; α-syn, alpha-synuclein; SND, striatonigral degeneration; OPCA, olivopontocerebellar atrophy; GCI, (oligodendro-)glial cytoplasmic inclusions; SAOA, sporadic adult onset ataxia; ECG, electrocardiogram; UMSARS, unified MSA rating scale; wt, wild type; tg, transgenic; RMSSD, root mean square of successive RR interval differences; LF, low frequency; HF, high frequency; MR, magnetic resonance; SPECT, single-photon emission computed tomography; PET, positron emission tomography; ChAT, choline-acetyltransferase; AVP, arginine-vasopressin; TH, tyrosine hydroxylase; Multiple system atrophy; Transgenic animal model; Alpha-synuclein; Heart rate variability; Autonomic failure
Various neuropsychiatric conditions, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), are characterized by deficient fear extinction, but individuals differ greatly in risk for these. While there is growing evidence that fear extinction is influenced by certain procedural variables, it is unclear how these influences might vary across individuals and subpopulations. To model individual differences in fear extinction, prior studies identified a strain of inbred mouse, 129S1/SvImJ (S1), which exhibits a profound deficit in fear extinction, as compared to other inbred strains, such as C57BL/6J (B6).
Here, we assessed the effects of procedural variables on the impaired extinction phenotype of the S1 strain and, by comparison, the extinction-intact B6 strain. The variables studied were 1) the interval between conditioning and extinction, 2) the interval between cues during extinction training, 3) single-cue exposure before extinction training, and 4) extinction of a second-order conditioned cue.
Conducting extinction training soon after (‘immediately’) conditioning attenuated fear retrieval in S1 mice and impaired extinction in B6 mice. Spacing cue presentations with long inter-trial intervals during extinction training augmented fear in S1 and B6 mice. The effect of spacing was lost with one-trial fear conditioning in B6, but not S1 mice. A single exposure to a conditioned cue before extinction training did not alter extinction retrieval, either in B6 or S1 mice. Both the S1 and B6 strains exhibited robust second-order fear conditioning, in which a cue associated with footshock was sufficient to serve as a conditioned exciter to condition a fear association to a second cue. B6 mice extinguished the fear response to the second-order conditioned cue, but S1 mice failed to do so.
These data provide further evidence that fear extinction is strongly influenced by multiple procedural variables and is so in a highly strain-dependent manner. This suggests that the efficacy of extinction-based behavioral interventions, such as exposure therapy, for trauma-related anxiety disorders will be determined by the procedural parameters employed and the degree to which the patient can extinguish.
Mouse; Gene; Behavior; Fear; Second order conditioning; PTSD; Prefrontal cortex; Amygdala; Anxiety; Rodent; Exposure-based therapy
Increasing evidence suggests that high-frequency deep brain stimulation of the nucleus accumbens (NAcb-DBS) may represent a novel therapeutic strategy for individuals suffering from treatment-resistant depression, although the underlying mechanisms of action remain largely unknown. In this study, using a unique mouse model of enhanced depression- and anxiety-like behavior (HAB), we investigated behavioral and neurobiological effects of NAcb-DBS. HAB mice either underwent chronic treatment with one of three different selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or received NAcb-DBS for 1 h per day for 7 consecutive days. Animals were tested in established paradigms revealing depression- and anxiety-related behaviors. The enhanced depression-like behavior of HAB mice was not influenced by chronic SSRI treatment. In contrast, repeated, but not single, NAcb-DBS induced robust antidepressant and anxiolytic responses in HAB animals, while these behaviors remained unaffected in normal depression/anxiety animals (NAB), suggesting a preferential effect of NAcb-DBS on pathophysiologically deranged systems. NAcb-DBS caused a modulation of challenge-induced activity in various stress- and depression-related brain regions, including an increase in c-Fos expression in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus and enhanced hippocampal neurogenesis in HABs. Taken together, these findings show that the normalization of the pathophysiologically enhanced, SSRI-insensitive depression-like behavior by repeated NAcb-DBS was associated with the reversal of reported aberrant brain activity and impaired adult neurogenesis in HAB mice, indicating that NAcb-DBS affects neuronal activity as well as plasticity in a defined, mood-associated network. Thus, HAB mice may represent a clinically relevant model for elucidating the neurobiological correlates of NAcb-DBS.
animal models; antidepressant; behavioral science; deep brain stimulation; depression; depression; Unipolar/Bipolar; neurogenesis; nucleus accumbens; Psychopharmacology; treatment-resistant depression; antidepressant; neurogenesis; deep brain stimulation; nucleus accumbens; c-Fos
Mood and anxiety disorders develop in some but not all individuals following exposure to stress and psychological trauma. However, the factors underlying individual differences in risk and resilience for these disorders, including genetic variation, remain to be determined. Isogenic inbred mouse strains provide a valuable approach to elucidating these factors. Here, we performed a comprehensive examination of the extinction-impaired 129S1/SvImJ (S1) inbred mouse strain for multiple behavioral, autonomic, neuroendocrine, and corticolimbic neuronal morphology phenotypes. We found that S1 exhibited fear overgeneralization to ambiguous contexts and cues, impaired context extinction and impaired safety learning, relative to the (good-extinguishing) C57BL/6J (B6) strain. Fear overgeneralization and impaired extinction was rescued by treatment with the front-line anxiety medication fluoxetine. Telemetric measurement of electrocardiogram signals demonstrated autonomic disturbances in S1 including poor recovery of fear-induced suppression of heart rate variability. S1 with a history of chronic restraint stress displayed an attenuated corticosterone (CORT) response to a novel, swim stressor. Conversely, previously stress-naive S1 showed exaggerated CORT responses to acute restraint stress or extinction training, insensitivity to dexamethasone challenge, and reduced hippocampal CA3 glucocorticoid receptor mRNA, suggesting downregulation of negative feedback control of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis. Analysis of neuronal morphology in key neural nodes within the fear and extinction circuit revealed enlarged dendritic arbors in basolateral amygdala neurons in S1, but normal infralimbic cortex and prelimbic cortex dendritic arborization. Collectively, these data provide convergent support for the utility of the S1 strain as a tractable model for elucidating the neural, molecular and genetic basis of persistent, excessive fear.
gene; vmPFC; anxiety; depression; PTSD; infralimbic; stress; mood; anxiety; stress disorders; learning and memory; psychiatry and behavioral sciences; biological psychiatry; extinction; gene; mouse; amygdala; prefrontal
The group III metabotropic glutamate (mGlu) receptors mGlu7 and mGlu8 are receiving increased attention as potential novel therapeutic targets for anxiety disorders. The effects mediated by these receptors appear to result from a complex interplay of facilitatory and inhibitory actions at different brain sites in the anxiety/fear circuits. To better understand the effect of mGlu7 and mGlu8 receptors on extinction of contextual fear and their critical sites of action in the fear networks, we focused on the amygdala. Direct injection into the basolateral complex of the amygdala of the mGlu7 receptor agonist AMN082 facilitated extinction, whereas the mGlu8 receptor agonist (S)-3,4-DCPG sustained freezing during the extinction acquisition trial. We also determined at the ultrastructural level the synaptic distribution of these receptors in the basal nucleus (BA) and intercalated cell clusters (ITCs) of the amygdala. Both areas are thought to exert key roles in fear extinction. We demonstrate that mGlu7 and mGlu8 receptors are located in different presynaptic terminals forming both asymmetric and symmetric synapses, and that they preferentially target neurons expressing mGlu1α receptors mostly located around ITCs. In addition we show that mGlu7 and mGlu8 receptors were segregated to different inputs to a significant extent. In particular, mGlu7a receptors were primarily onto glutamatergic afferents arising from the BA or midline thalamic nuclei, but not the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), as revealed by combined anterograde tracing and pre-embedding electron microscopy. On the other hand, mGlu8a showed a more restricted distribution in the BA and appeared absent from thalamic, mPFC and intrinsic inputs. This segregation of mGlu7 and mGlu8 receptors in different neuronal pathways of the fear circuit might explain the distinct effects on fear extinction training observed with mGlu7 and mGlu8 receptor agonists.
This article is part of a Special Issue entitled ‘Metabotropic Glutamate Receptors’.
► The mGlu7 receptor agonist AMN082 facilitated extinction of contextual fear. ► The mGlu8 receptor agonist DCPG exerted an anxiogenic-effect amygdala mediated. ► mGlu7a and mGlu8a receptors segregate mostly to different inputs in the BA. ► Inputs innervating large ITC neurons are enriched in mGlu7a and mGlu8a receptors. ► Thalamic and BA inputs, but not mPFC, to the amygdala possess mGlu7a receptors.
Amygdala; Intercalated cell; Prefrontal cortex; Tract tracing; Electron microscopy
Anxiety disorders are characterized by persistent, excessive fear. Therapeutic interventions that reverse deficits in fear extinction represent a tractable approach to treating these disorders. We previously reported that 129S1/SvImJ (S1) mice show no extinction learning following normal fear conditioning. We now demonstrate that weak fear conditioning does permit fear reduction during massed extinction training in S1 mice, but reveals specific deficiency in extinction memory consolidation/retrieval. Rescue of this impaired extinction consolidation/retrieval was achieved with d-cycloserine (N-methly-d-aspartate partial agonist) or MS-275 (histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor), applied after extinction training. We next examined the ability of different drugs and non-pharmacological manipulations to rescue the extreme fear extinction deficit in S1 following normal fear conditioning with the ultimate aim to produce low fear levels in extinction retrieval tests. Results showed that deep brain stimulation (DBS) by applying high frequency stimulation to the nucleus accumbens (ventral striatum) during extinction training, indeed significantly reduced fear during extinction retrieval compared to sham stimulation controls. Rescue of both impaired extinction acquisition and deficient extinction consolidation/retrieval was achieved with prior extinction training administration of valproic acid (a GABAergic enhancer and HDAC inhibitor) or AMN082 [metabotropic glutamate receptor 7 (mGlu7) agonist], while MS-275 or PEPA (AMPA receptor potentiator) failed to affect extinction acquisition in S1 mice. Collectively, these data identify potential beneficial effects of DBS and various drug treatments, including those with HDAC inhibiting or mGlu7 agonism properties, as adjuncts to overcome treatment resistance in exposure-based therapies.
This article is part of a Special Issue entitled ‘Cognitive Enhancers’.
► Nucleus accumbens stimulation during training rescues deficient extinction in S1. ► mGluR7 agonism or duel HDAC inhibition/GABA enhancement rescues S1 extinction. ► Weak fear conditioning permit extinction learning, not retrieval, in S1 mice. ► HDAC inhibitor, MS-275, rescues S1 extinction after weak, not strong, conditioning. ► d-cycloserine, NMDAR partial agonist, rescues S1 extinction after weak conditioning.
Fear extinction; Metabotropic glutamate receptor; Epigenetics; HDAC inhibitor; Ventral striatum deep brain stimulation; NMDA receptor
Fear extinction is impaired in neuropsychiatric disorders, including posttraumatic stress disorder. Identifying drugs that facilitate fear extinction in animal models provides leads for novel pharmacological treatments for these disorders. Zinc (Zn) is expressed in neurons in a cortico-amygdala circuit mediating fear extinction, and modulates neurotransmitter systems regulating extinction. We previously found that the 129S1/SvImJ mouse strain (S1) exhibited a profound impairment in fear extinction, coupled with abnormalities in the activation of the extinction circuit. Here, we tested the role of Zn in fear extinction in S1 and C57BL/6N reference strain (B6) by feeding the mice a Zn-restricted diet (ZnR) and testing for fear extinction, as well as neuronal activation of the extinction circuit via quantification of the immediate-early genes c-Fos and Zif268. Results showed that (preconditioning or postconditioning) ZnR completely rescued deficient extinction learning and long-term extinction retrieval in S1 and expedited extinction learning in B6, without affecting fear acquisition or fear expression. The extinction-facilitating effects of ZnR were associated with the normalization of Zif268 and/or c-Fos expression in cortico-amygdala regions of S1. Specifically, ZnR increased activity in infralimbic cortex, lateral and basolateral amygdala nuclei, and lateral central amygdala nucleus, and decreased activity in prelimbic and insular cortices and medial central amygdala nucleus. ZnR also increased activation in the main intercalated nucleus and decreased activation of the medial paracapsular intercalated mass in S1. Our findings reveal a novel role for Zn in fear extinction and further support the utility of the S1 model for identifying extinction facilitating drugs.
Mice are increasingly overtaking the rat model organism in important aspects of anxiety research, including drug development. However, translating the results obtained in mouse studies into information that can be applied in clinics remains challenging. One reason may be that most of the studies so far have used animals displaying ‘normal’ anxiety rather than ‘psychopathological’ animal models with abnormal (elevated) anxiety, which more closely reflect core features and sensitivities to therapeutic interventions of human anxiety disorders, and which would, thus, narrow the translational gap. Here, we discuss manipulations aimed at persistently enhancing anxiety-related behavior in the laboratory mouse using phenotypic selection, genetic techniques and/or environmental manipulations. It is hoped that such models with enhanced construct validity will provide improved ways of studying the neurobiology and treatment of pathological anxiety. Examples of findings from mouse models of enhanced anxiety-related behavior will be discussed, as well as their relation to findings in anxiety disorder patients regarding neuroanatomy, neurobiology, genetic involvement and epigenetic modifications. Finally, we highlight novel targets for potential anxiolytic pharmacotherapeutics that have been established with the help of research involving mice. Since the use of psychopathological mouse models is only just beginning to increase, it is still unclear as to the extent to which such approaches will enhance the success rate of drug development in translating identified therapeutic targets into clinical trials and, thus, helping to introduce the next anxiolytic class of drugs.
anxiety disorders; anxiolytic; benzodiazepine; drug development; inborn anxiety; mutant mice; neurokinin 1 receptor; neuropeptide S; psychopathology; stress
Intracerebral microdialysis in conjunction with a highly sensitive radioimmunoassay was used to study the in vivo release of neuropeptide S (NPS) within the amygdala of freely moving rats. NPS was consistently detected in basolateral amygdala dialysates and the release considerably enhanced in response to local depolarisation as well as exposure to forced swim stress. Thus, our data demonstrate for the first time emotional stress-induced release of NPS in the amygdala supporting a functional role of endogenous NPS in stress/anxiety-related phenomena.
Neuropeptide S antibody; Anxiety; Depression; Stress-related disorders; Microdialysis; Radioimmunoassay
Anxiety is integrated in the amygdaloid nuclei and involves the interplay of the amygdala and various other areas of the brain. Neuropeptides play a critical role in regulating this process. Neuropeptide Y (NPY), a 36 aa peptide, is highly expressed in the amygdala. It exerts potent anxiolytic effects through cognate postsynaptic Y1 receptors, but augments anxiety through presynaptic Y2 receptors. To identify the precise anatomical site(s) of Y2-mediated anxiogenic action, we investigated the effect of site-specific deletion of the Y2 gene in amygdaloid nuclei on anxiety and depression-related behaviors in mice. Ablating the Y2 gene in the basolateral and central amygdala resulted in an anxiolytic phenotype, whereas deletion in the medial amygdala or in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis had no obvious effect on emotion-related behavior. Deleting the Y2 receptor gene in the central amygdala, but not in any other amygdaloid nucleus, resulted in an added antidepressant-like effect. It was associated with a reduction of presumably presynaptic Y2 receptors in the stria terminalis/bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, the nucleus accumbens, and the locus ceruleus. Our results are evidence of the highly site-specific nature of the Y2-mediated function of NPY in the modulation of anxiety- and depression-related behavior. The activity of NPY is likely mediated by the presynaptic inhibition of GABA and/or NPY release from interneurons and/or efferent projection neurons of the basolateral and central amygdala.
The lateral septum (LS) has been shown to have a key role in emotional processes and stress responses. However, the exact role of the LS on stress modulation is not clear, as previous lesion studies mostly used electrolytic lesions, thereby destroying the whole septal area, including medial components and/or fibers of passage. The aim of the present study was therefore, to investigate the effects of selective excitotoxic ablation of the LS on neuroendocrine and behavioral stress responses in rats. Bilateral ibotenic acid lesions of the LS increased hypothalamo–pituitary–adrenocortical (HPA) axis responses to forced swim stress indicated by enhanced plasma ACTH and corticosterone responses and higher stress-induced c-Fos-like immunoreactivity in the paraventricular hypothalamic nucleus. Moreover, LS-lesioned animals showed a more passive coping style in the forced swim test indicated by increased floating and reduced struggling/swimming behavior compared with sham-lesioned controls. Interestingly, intraseptal corticosteroid receptor blockade modulated behavioral stress coping but failed to change HPA axis stress responses. Further experiments aimed at elucidating underlying neurochemical mechanisms revealed that intraseptal administration of the selective 5-HT1A receptor antagonist WAY-100635 increased and prolonged stress-induced ACTH and corticosterone levels mimicking lesion effects, while the agonist 8-OH-DPAT suppressed HPA axis activity facilitating the inhibitory role of the LS. In addition, 8-OH-DPAT-injected animals showed increased active and decreased passive coping strategies during forced swimming suggesting antidepressant efficacy. Taken together, our data suggest that the LS promotes active stress coping behavior and is involved in a HPA-inhibitory mechanism that is at least in part mediated by septal 5-HT1A receptors and does not involve a glucocorticoid mediated feedback mechanism.
forced swimming; HPA axis; ACTH; corticosterone; glucocorticoids; serotonin; mood/anxiety/stress disorders; neurochemistry; neuroendocrinology; neuropharmacology; septum; HPA axis; stress; coping; glucocorticoids
The propensity to develop an anxiety disorder is thought to be determined by genetic and environmental factors. Here we investigated the relationship between a genetic predisposition to trait anxiety and experience-based learned fear in a psychopathological mouse model. Male CD-1 mice selectively bred for either high (HAB), or normal (NAB) anxiety-related behaviour on the elevated plus maze were subjected to classical fear conditioning. During conditioning both mouse lines showed increased fear responses as assessed by freezing behaviour. However, 24 h later, HAB mice displayed more pronounced conditioned responses to both a contextual or cued stimulus when compared with NAB mice. Interestingly, 6 h and already 1 h after fear conditioning, freezing levels were high in HAB mice but not in NAB mice. These results suggest that trait anxiety determines stronger fear memory and/or a weaker ability to inhibit fear responses in the HAB line. The enhanced fear response of HAB mice was attenuated by treatment with either the α2,3,5-subunit selective benzodiazepine partial agonist L-838,417, corticosterone or the selective neurokinin-1 receptor antagonist L-822,429. Overall, the HAB mouse line may represent an interesting model (i) for identifying biological factors underlying misguided conditioned fear responses and (ii) for studying novel anxiolytic pharmacotherapies for patients with fear-associated disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder and phobias.