Systemic and intra-amygdala administration of glucocorticoid agonist and antagonist modulate extinction of conditioned fear.
ABSTRACT We examined the effect of glucocorticoid agonists on the extinction of conditioned fear in rats by using fear-potentiated startle. Systemic injection of glucocorticoid receptor agonists dexamethasone (DEX) (0.1, 0.5, and 1.0 mg/kg) and intra-amygdala infusion of RU28362 (0.5, 1.0, and 3.0 ng/side) prior to extinction training facilitated extinction of conditioned fear in a dose-dependent manner. Extinction of conditioned fear and circulating corticosterone levels were attenuated by administration of corticosteroid synthesis inhibitor metyrapone (25 mg/kg s.c.) 90 min before extinction training. The facilitation effect of DEX was dependent on repeated presentation of the conditioned stimulus rather than exposure to the experimental context, indicating this effect did not result from impaired expression of conditioned fear or accelerated forgetting. Intra-amygdaloid administration of the glucocorticoid receptor antagonist mifepristone (0.1, 0.2, and 0.5 ng/side, bilaterally) blocked extinction of conditioned fear and the facilitation effect of DEX in a dose-dependent manner. Mifepristone (2 ng/side) did not affect extinction but blocked the facilitating effect of DEX. Systemic administration of DEX after extinction training also facilitated extinction, suggesting that DEX may influence the memory consodilation phase of extinction. The Dose of dexamethsone or metyrapone used here did not influence fear-potentiated startle when administered before testing. Thus, it is unlikely that these drugs influenced extinction by increasing or disrupting CS processing. All results suggested that amygdaloid glucocorticoid receptors were involved in the extinction of conditioned fear.
Article: Cell-type specific deletion of GABA(A)α1 in corticotropin-releasing factor-containing neurons enhances anxiety and disrupts fear extinction.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) is critical for the endocrine, autonomic, and behavioral responses to stressors, and it has been shown to modulate fear and anxiety. The CRF receptor is widely expressed across a variety of cell types, impeding progress toward understanding the contribution of specific CRF-containing neurons to fear dysregulation. We used a unique CRF-Cre driver transgenic mouse line to remove floxed GABA(A)α1 subunits specifically from CRF neurons [CRF-GABA(A)α1 KO]. This process resulted in mice with decreased GABA(A)α1 expression only in CRF neurons and increased CRF mRNA within the amygdala, bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) and paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus. These mice show normal locomotor and pain responses and no difference in depressive-like behavior or Pavlovian fear conditioning. However, CRF-GABA(A)α1 KO increased anxiety-like behavior and impaired extinction of conditioned fear, coincident with an increase in plasma corticosterone concentration. These behavioral impairments were rescued with systemic or BNST infusion of the CRF antagonist R121919. Infusion of Zolpidem, a GABA(A)α1-preferring benzodiazepine-site agonist, into the BNST of the CRF-GABA(A)α1 KO was ineffective at decreasing anxiety. Electrophysiological findings suggest a disruption in inhibitory current may play a role in these changes. These data indicate that disturbance of CRF containing GABA(A)α1 neurons causes increased anxiety and impaired fear extinction, both of which are symptoms diagnostic for anxiety disorders, such as posttraumatic stress disorder.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 09/2012; 109(40):16330-5. · 9.68 Impact Factor
Article: Glucocorticoids interact with the hippocampal endocannabinoid system in impairing retrieval of contextual fear memory.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: There is extensive evidence that glucocorticoid hormones impair the retrieval of memory of emotionally arousing experiences. Although it is known that glucocorticoid effects on memory retrieval impairment depend on rapid interactions with arousal-induced noradrenergic activity, the exact mechanism underlying this presumably nongenomically mediated glucocorticoid action remains to be elucidated. Here, we show that the hippocampal endocannabinoid system, a rapidly activated retrograde messenger system, is involved in mediating glucocorticoid effects on retrieval of contextual fear memory. Systemic administration of corticosterone (0.3-3 mg/kg) to male Sprague-Dawley rats 1 h before retention testing impaired the retrieval of contextual fear memory without impairing the retrieval of auditory fear memory or directly affecting the expression of freezing behavior. Importantly, a blockade of hippocampal CB1 receptors with AM251 prevented the impairing effect of corticosterone on retrieval of contextual fear memory, whereas the same impairing dose of corticosterone increased hippocampal levels of the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol. We also found that antagonism of hippocampal β-adrenoceptor activity with local infusions of propranolol blocked the memory retrieval impairment induced by the CB receptor agonist WIN55,212-2. Thus, these findings strongly suggest that the endocannabinoid system plays an intermediary role in regulating rapid glucocorticoid effects on noradrenergic activity in impairing memory retrieval of emotionally arousing experiences.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 02/2012; 109(9):3504-9. · 9.68 Impact Factor
Article: Brain activation during fear conditioning in humans depends on genetic variations related to functioning of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis: first evidence from two independent subsamples.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Enhanced acquisition and delayed extinction of fear conditioning are viewed as major determinants of anxiety disorders, which are often characterized by a dysfunctional hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis.Method In this study we employed cued fear conditioning in two independent samples of healthy subjects (sample 1: n=60, sample 2: n=52). Two graphical shapes served as conditioned stimuli and painful electrical stimulation as the unconditioned stimulus. In addition, guided by findings from published animal studies on HPA axis-related genes in fear conditioning, we examined variants of the glucocorticoid receptor and corticotropin-releasing hormone receptor 1 genes. RESULTS: Variation in these genes showed enhanced amygdala activation during the acquisition and reduced prefrontal activation during the extinction of fear as well as altered amygdala-prefrontal connectivity. CONCLUSIONS: This is the first demonstration of the involvement of genes related to the HPA axis in human fear conditioning.Psychological Medicine 03/2012; · 6.16 Impact Factor