Pharmacological enhancement of calcium-activated potassium channel function reduces the effects of repeated stress on fear memory.
ABSTRACT Repeated stress impacts emotion, and can induce mood and anxiety disorders. These disorders are characterized by imbalance of emotional responses. The amygdala is fundamental in expression of emotion, and is hyperactive in many patients with mood or anxiety disorders. Stress also leads to hyperactivity of the amygdala in humans. In rodent studies, repeated stress causes hyperactivity of the amygdala, and increases fear conditioning behavior that is mediated by the basolateral amygdala (BLA). Calcium-activated potassium (K(Ca)) channels regulate BLA neuronal activity, and evidence suggests reduced small conductance K(Ca) (SK) channel function in male rats exposed to repeated stress. Pharmacological enhancement of SK channels reverses the BLA neuronal hyperexcitability caused by repeated stress. However, it is not known if pharmacological targeting of SK channels can repair the effects of repeated stress on amygdala-dependent behaviors. The purpose of this study was to test whether enhancement of SK channel function reverses the effects of repeated restraint on BLA-dependent auditory fear conditioning. We found that repeated restraint stress increased the expression of cued conditioned fear in male rats. However, 1-Ethyl-2-benzimidazolinone (1-EBIO, 1 or 10 mg/kg) or CyPPA (5 mg/kg) administered 30 min prior to testing of fear expression brought conditioned freezing to control levels, with little impact on fear expression in control handled rats. These results demonstrate that enhancement of SK channel function can reduce the abnormalities of BLA-dependent fear memory caused by repeated stress. Furthermore, this indicates that pharmacological targeting of SK channels may provide a novel target for alleviation of psychiatric symptoms associated with amygdala hyperactivity.
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ABSTRACT: Chronic stress exacerbates and can induce symptoms of depression and anxiety disorders. Chronic stress causes amygdala hyperactivity, which may contribute to these detrimental effects. One potential mechanism for amygdala hyperactivity is an increase of excitatory drive after stress. Excitatory inputs to the amygdala predominantly synapse upon dendritic spines, and repeated stress has been demonstrated to increase dendritic spines in the basolateral amygdala (BLA). However, the BLA is comprised of several nuclei, including the lateral nucleus (LAT) and the basal nucleus (BA), which exert functionally distinct roles in amygdala-dependent behaviors. Furthermore, while an increase of dendritic spines can impart significant functional ramifications, a shift of spine distribution can also exert significant impact. However, differences in the effects of repeated stress on LAT and BA have not been examined, nor differential effects on spine distribution. This study examined the effects of repeated restraint stress on dendritic structure of principal neurons from the LAT and BA in Golgi-stained tissue. This study found that repeated stress increased spine number in LAT and BA, but in very distinct patterns, with proximal increases in LAT neurons and non-proximal increases in BA neurons. Furthermore, repeated stress increased dendritic length in the BA, but not the LAT, leading to a global change of spine density in BA, but a focal change in LAT. These distinct effects of repeated stress in the LAT and BA may exert significant functional effects on fear behavior, and may underlie differences in the effects of repeated stress on acquisition, contextual modulation and extinction of fear behavior.Neuroscience 05/2013; 246:230–242. · 3.33 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Severe and repeated stress has damaging effects on health, including initiation of depression and anxiety. Stress that occurs during development has long-lasting and particularly damaging effects on emotion. The basolateral amygdala (BLA) plays a key role in many affective behaviors, and repeated stress causes different forms of BLA hyperactivity in adolescent and adult rats. However, the mechanism is not known. Furthermore, not every individual is susceptible to the negative consequences of stress. Differences in the effects of stress on the BLA might contribute to determine whether an individual will be vulnerable or resilient to the effects of stress on emotion. The purpose of this study is to test the cellular underpinnings for age-dependency of BLA hyperactivity after stress, and whether protective changes occur in resilient individuals. To test this, the effects of repeated stress on membrane excitability and other membrane properties of BLA principal neurons were compared between adult and adolescent rats, and between vulnerable and resilient rats, using in vitro whole cell recordings. Vulnerability was defined by adrenal gland weight, and verified by body weight gain after repeated restraint stress, and fecal pellet production during repeated restraint sessions. We found that repeated stress increased the excitability of BLA neurons, but in a manner that depended on age and BLA subnucleus. Furthermore, stress resilience was associated with an opposite pattern of change, with increased slow afterhyperpolarization potential (AHP) while vulnerability was associated with decreased medium AHP. The opposite outcomes in these two populations were further distinguished by differences of anxiety-like behavior in the elevated plus maze that were correlated with BLA neuronal excitability and AHP. These results demonstrate a substrate for BLA hyperactivity after repeated stress, with distinct membrane properties to target, as well as age-dependent factors that contribute to resilience to the effects of stress.Neuropsychopharmacology accepted article preview online, 12 March 2014; doi:10.1038/npp.2014.60.Neuropsychopharmacology: official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology 03/2014; · 8.68 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Parkinson's disease has traditionally been viewed as a motor disorder caused by the loss of dopamine (DA) neurons. However, emotional and cognitive syndromes can precede the onset of the motor deficits and provide an opportunity for therapeutic intervention. Potassium channels have recently emerged as potential new targets in the treatment of Parkinson's disease. The selective blockade of small conductance calcium-activated K+ channels (SK channels) by apamin is known to increase burst firing in midbrain DA neurons and therefore DA release. We thus investigated the effects of systemic administration of apamin on the motor, cognitive deficits and anxiety present after bilateral nigrostriatal 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) lesions in rats. Apamin administration (0.1 or 0.3 mg/kg i.p.) counteracted the depression, anxiety-like behaviors evaluated on sucrose consumption and in the elevated plus maze, social recognition and spatial memory deficits produced by partial 6-OHDA lesions. Apamin also reduced asymmetric motor deficits on circling behavior and postural adjustments in the unilateral extensive 6-OHDA model. The partial 6-OHDA lesions (56% striatal DA depletion) produced 20% decrease of iodinated apamin binding sites in the substantia nigra pars compacta in correlation with the loss of tyrosine hydroxylase positive cells, without modifying apamin binding in brain regions receiving DAergic innervation. Striatal extracellular levels of DA, not detectable after 6-OHDA lesions, were enhanced by apamin treatment as measured by in vivo microdialysis. These results indicate that blocking SK channels may reinstate minimal DA activity in the striatum to alleviate the non-motor symptoms induced by partial striatal DA lesions.The International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology 03/2014; · 5.64 Impact Factor