Activation of CREB in the nucleus accumbens shell produces anhedonia and resistance to extinction of fear in rats.
ABSTRACT Stress triggers psychiatric conditions including depressive and anxiety disorders. The mechanisms by which stress produces persistent changes in behavior are not fully understood. Here we show in rats that stress (footshock) activates the transcription factor cAMP response element binding protein (CREB) within the nucleus accumbens shell (NAS), a brain area involved in encoding reward and aversion. To examine the behavioral significance of altered CREB function in the NAS, we used viral vectors to elevate or disrupt CREB in this region. Elevated CREB produced increases in intracranial self-stimulation thresholds, a depressive-like sign reflecting anhedonia (decreased sensitivity to reward), whereas disruption of CREB function by expression of a dominant-negative CREB had the opposite effect. To determine whether neuroadaptations that produce anhedonia subsequently affect vulnerability to stress-induced behavioral adaptations, we subjected rats with altered CREB function in the NAS to fear conditioning. Although neither elevation nor disruption of CREB function altered the development of conditioned fear, elevation of CREB impaired extinction of conditioned fear. To mimic downstream effects of CREB activation on expression of the opioid peptide dynorphin, we microinjected the κ-opioid receptor (KOR) agonist U50,488 directly into the NAS. KOR stimulation produced anhedonia but had no effect on expression or extinction of conditioned fear. These findings demonstrate that activation of CREB in the NAS produces multiple behavioral signs (anhedonia, impaired extinction) characteristic of experience-dependent psychiatric conditions such as posttraumatic stress disorder. Although CREB activation is a common trigger, expression of these individual signs appears to involve divergent downstream mechanisms.
Article: Kappa opioid receptor signaling in the basolateral amygdala regulates conditioned fear and anxiety in rats.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: The kappa opioid receptor (KOR) system contributes to the prodepressive and aversive consequences of stress and is implicated in the facilitation of conditioned fear and anxiety in rodents. Here, we sought to identify neural circuits that mediate KOR system effects on fear and anxiety in rats. We assessed whether fear conditioning induces plasticity in KOR or dynorphin (the endogenous KOR ligand) messenger RNA (mRNA) expression in the basolateral (BLA) and central (CeA) nuclei of the amygdala, hippocampus, or striatum. We then assessed whether microinfusions of the KOR antagonist JDTic (0-10 μg/side) into the BLA or CeA affect the expression of conditioned fear or anxiety. Finally, we examined whether fear extinction induces plasticity in KOR mRNA expression that relates to the quality of fear extinction. Fear conditioning upregulated KOR mRNA in the BLA by 65% and downregulated it in the striatum by 22%, without affecting KOR levels in the CeA or hippocampus, or dynorphin levels in any region. KOR antagonism in either the BLA or CeA decreased conditioned fear in the fear-potentiated startle paradigm, whereas KOR antagonism in the BLA, but not the CeA, produced anxiolytic-like effects in the elevated plus maze. Effective fear extinction was associated with a 67% reduction in KOR mRNA in the BLA. These findings suggest that fear conditioning and extinction dynamically regulate KOR expression in the BLA and provide evidence that the BLA and CeA are important neural substrates mediating the anxiolytic-like effects of KOR antagonists in models of fear and anxiety.Biological psychiatry 04/2011; 70(5):425-33. · 8.93 Impact Factor