[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Anxiety and addiction disorders are two of the most common mental disorders in the United States, and are typically chronic, disabling, and comorbid. Emerging evidence suggests the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) mediates both anxiety and addiction through connections with other brain regions, including the amygdala and nucleus accumbens. Although BNST structural connections have been identified in rodents and a limited number of structural connections have been verified in non-human primates, BNST connections have yet to be described in humans. Neuroimaging is a powerful tool for identifying structural and functional circuits in vivo. In this study, we examined BNST structural and functional connectivity in a large sample of humans. The BNST has structural and functional connections with multiple subcortical regions, including limbic, thalamic, and basal ganglia structures, confirming structural findings in rodents. We describe two novel connections in the human brain that have not been previously reported in rodents or non-human primates, including structural connections with the temporal pole, and functional connections with the paracingulate gyrus. The findings of this study provide a map of the BNST's structural and functional connectivity across brain in healthy humans. In large part, the BNST neurocircuitry in humans is similar to findings from rodents and non-human primates; however, several connections are unique to humans. Future explorations of BNST neurocircuitry in anxiety and addiction disorders have the potential to reveal novel mechanisms underlying these disabling psychiatric illnesses.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Glutamatergic and GABAergic transmission undergo significant changes during adolescence. Receptors for both of these transmitters (NMDAR, and GABAA) are known to be key targets for the acute effects of ethanol in adults. The current study set out to investigate the acute effects of ethanol on both NMDAR-mediated excitatory transmission and GABAergic inhibitory transmission within the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) across age. The BNST is an area of the brain implicated in the negative reinforcing properties associated with alcohol dependence, and the BNST plays a critical role in stress-induced relapse. Therefore, assessing the developmental regulation of ethanol sensitivity in this key brain region is important to understanding the progression of ethanol dependence. To do this, whole-cell recordings of isolated NMDAR-evoked excitatory postsynaptic currents (eEPSCs) or evoked GABAergic inhibitory postsynaptic currents (eIPSCs) were performed on BNST neurons in slices from 4- or 8-week-old male C57BL/6J mice. Ethanol (50 mm) produced greater inhibition of NMDAR-eEPSCs in adolescent mice than in adult mice. This enhanced sensitivity in adolescence was not a result of shifts in function of the GluN2B subunit of the NMDAR, measured by Ro25-6981 inhibition and decay kinetics measured across age. Adolescent mice also exhibited greater ethanol sensitivity of GABAergic transmission, as ethanol (50 mm) enhanced eIPSCs in the BNST of adolescent but not adult mice. Collectively, this work illustrates that a moderate dose of ethanol produces greater inhibition of transmission in the BNST (through greater excitatory inhibition and enhancement of inhibitory transmission) in adolescents compared to adults. Given the role of the BNST in alcohol dependence, these developmental changes in acute ethanol sensitivity could accelerate neuroadaptations that result from chronic ethanol use during the critical period of adolescence.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) contribute to asthma, but little is known about the molecular mechanisms connecting increased ROS with characteristic features of asthma. We show that enhanced oxidative activation of the Ca(2+)/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase (ox-CaMKII) in bronchial epithelium positively correlates with asthma severity and that epithelial ox-CaMKII increases in response to inhaled allergens in patients. We used mouse models of allergic airway disease induced by ovalbumin (OVA) or Aspergillus fumigatus (Asp) and found that bronchial epithelial ox-CaMKII was required to increase a ROS- and picrotoxin-sensitive Cl(-) current (ICl) and MUC5AC expression, upstream events in asthma progression. Allergen challenge increased epithelial ROS by activating NADPH oxidases. Mice lacking functional NADPH oxidases due to knockout of p47 and mice with epithelial-targeted transgenic expression of a CaMKII inhibitory peptide or wild-type mice treated with inhaled KN-93, an experimental small-molecule CaMKII antagonist, were protected against increases in ICl, MUC5AC expression, and airway hyperreactivity to inhaled methacholine. Our findings support the view that CaMKII is a ROS-responsive, pluripotent proasthmatic signal and provide proof-of-concept evidence that CaMKII is a therapeutic target in asthma.
Science translational medicine 07/2013; 5(195):195ra97. · 10.76 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) mediates activity-dependent depression of excitatory neurotransmission at central synapses, but the molecular regulation of 2-AG synthesis is not well understood. Here we identify a functional interaction between the 2-AG synthetic enzyme diacylglycerol lipase-α (DGLα) and calcium/calmodulin dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII). Activated CaMKII interacted with the C-terminal domain of DGLα, phosphorylated two serine residues and inhibited DGLα activity. Consistent with an inhibitory role for CaMKII in 2-AG synthesis, in vivo genetic inhibition of CaMKII increased striatal DGL activity and basal levels of 2-AG, and CaMKII inhibition augmented short-term retrograde endocannabinoid signaling at striatal glutamatergic synapses. Lastly, blockade of 2-AG breakdown using concentrations of JZL-184 that have no effect in wild-type mice produced a hypolocomotor response in mice with reduced CaMKII activity. These findings provide mechanistic insights into the molecular regulation of striatal endocannabinoid signaling with implications for physiological control of motor function.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Glutamatergic neurotransmission in the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA) plays an important role in many behaviors including anxiety, memory consolidation and cardiovascular responses. While these behaviors can be modulated by corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) and catecholamine signaling, the mechanism(s) by which these signals modify CeA glutamatergic neurotransmission remains unclear. Utilizing whole-cell patch-clamp electrophysiology recordings from neurons in the lateral subdivision of the CeA (CeAL), we show that CRF, dopamine (DA) and the β-adrenergic receptor agonist isoproterenol (ISO) all enhance the frequency of spontaneous excitatory postsynaptic currents (sEPSC) without altering sEPSC kinetics, suggesting they increase presynaptic glutamate release. The effect of CRF on sEPSCs was mediated by a combination of CRFR1 and CRFR2 receptors. While previous work from our lab suggests that CRFRs mediate the effect of catecholamines on excitatory transmission in other subregions of the extended amygdala, blockade of CRFRs in the CeAL failed to significantly alter effects of DA and ISO on glutamatergic transmission. These findings suggest that catecholamine and CRF enhancement of glutamatergic transmission onto CeAL neurons occurs via distinct mechanisms. While CRF increased spontaneous glutamate release in the CeAL, CRF caused no significant changes to optogenetically evoked glutamate release in this region. The dissociable effects of CRF on different types of glutamatergic neurotransmission suggest that CRF may specifically regulate spontaneous excitatory transmission.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) is a group of inter-connected subnuclei that play critical roles in stress-reward interactions. An interesting feature of this brain region is the massive noradrenergic input that it receives. Important roles for norepinephrine in this region have been documented in a number of stress and reward related behaviors. This work has been paralleled over the last several years by efforts to understand the actions of norepinephrine on neuronal function in the region. In this review, we will summarize the current state of these research areas.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The extended amygdala is a series of interconnected, embryologically similar series of nuclei in the brain that are thought to play key roles in aspects of alcohol dependence, specifically in stress-induced increases in alcohol-seeking behaviors. Plasticity of excitatory transmission in these and other brain regions is currently an intense area of scrutiny as a mechanism underlying aspects of addiction. N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptors (NMDARs) play a critical role in plasticity at excitatory synapses and have been identified as major molecular targets of ethanol. Thus, this article will explore alcohol and NMDAR interactions first at a general level and then focusing within the extended amygdala, in particular on the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST).
Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in medicine. 02/2013;
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A growing literature suggests that catecholamines and corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) interact in a serial manner to activate the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) to drive stress- or cue-induced drug- and alcohol-seeking behaviors. Data suggest that these behaviors are driven in part by BNST projections to the ventral tegmental area (VTA). Together, these findings suggest the existence of a CRF-signaling pathway within the BNST that is engaged by catecholamines and regulates the activity of BNST neurons projecting to the VTA. Here we test three aspects of this model to determine: (1) whether catecholamines modify CRF neuron activity in the BNST; (2) whether CRF regulates excitatory drive onto VTA-projecting BNST neurons; and (3) whether this system is altered by ethanol exposure and withdrawal. A CRF neuron fluorescent reporter strategy was used to identify BNST CRF neurons for whole-cell patch-clamp analysis in acutely prepared slices. Using this approach, we found that both dopamine and isoproterenol significantly depolarized BNST CRF neurons. Furthermore, using a fluorescent microsphere-based identification strategy we found that CRF enhances the frequency of spontaneous EPSCs onto VTA-projecting BNST neurons in naive mice. This action of CRF was occluded during acute withdrawal from chronic intermittent ethanol exposure. These findings suggest that dopamine and isoproterenol may enhance CRF release from local BNST sources, leading to enhancement of excitatory neurotransmission on VTA-projecting neurons, and that this pathway is engaged by patterns of alcohol exposure and withdrawal known to drive excessive alcohol intake.
Journal of Neuroscience 01/2013; 33(3):950-60. · 6.91 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Administration of a single low dose of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist ketamine has been demonstrated to elicit long-lasting antidepressant effects in humans with depression, as well as in rodent models of depression. Although pharmacological studies have implicated the GluN2B subunit of the NMDA receptor in these effects, drugs targeting this subunit have off-target actions, and systemic administration of these compounds does not allow for delineation of specific brain regions involved. In this study, we assessed the role of GluN2B in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) in novelty-induced hypophagia (NIH) in mice. First, we verified that ketamine, as well as the GluN2B antagonist Ro25-6981, decreased the latency to consume food in a novel environment in a version of the NIH test. We then hypothesized that GluN2B-containing receptors within the BNST may be a target of systemic ketamine and contribute to behavioral effects. Through the combination of a GluN2B-floxed mouse line and stereotaxic delivery of lentiviral Cre recombinase, we found that targeted knockdown of this subunit within the BNST mimicked the reduction in affective behavior observed with systemic ketamine or Ro25-6981 in the NIH test. These data suggest a role for GluN2B-containing NMDARs within the BNST in the affective effects of systemic ketamine.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Stress and anxiety play an important role in the development and maintenance of drug and alcohol addiction. The bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST), a brain region involved in the production of long-term stress-related behaviors, plays an important role in animal models of relapse, such as reinstatement to previously extinguished drug-seeking behaviors. While a number of neurotransmitter systems have been suggested to play a role in these behaviors, recent evidence points to the neuropeptide corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) as being critically important in BNST-mediated reinstatement behaviors. Although numerous studies indicate that the BNST is a complex brain region with multiple afferent and efferent systems and a variety of cell types, there has only been limited work to determine how CRF modulates this complex neuronal system at the circuit level. Recent work from our lab and others have begun to unravel these BNST neurocircuits and explore their roles in CRF-related reinstatement behaviors. This review will examine the role of CRF signaling in drug addiction and reinstatement with an emphasis on critical neurocircuitry within the BNST that may offer new insights into treatments for addiction.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: RATIONALE AND OBJECTIVE: We sought to examine the impact of differing cocaine administration schedules and dosing on the magnitude of cocaine conditioned place preference (CPP), extinction, and stress- and cocaine-induced reinstatement of CPP. METHODS: First, in C57Bl/6J mice, we investigated whether total cocaine administration or pattern of drug exposure could influence the magnitude of cocaine CPP by conditioning mice with a fixed-low dose (F(L); 7.5 mg/kg; total of 30 mg/kg), a fixed-high dose (F(H); 16 mg/kg; total of 64 mg/kg), or an ascending dosing schedule (Asc; 2, 4, 8, and 16 mg/kg; total of 30 mg/kg). Next, we investigated if cocaine or saline is more effective at extinguishing preference by reconditioning mice with either a descending dosing schedule (Desc; 8, 4, 2, and 1 mg/kg) or saline. Finally, we examined if prior conditioning and reconditioning history alters stress (~2-3-min forced swim test) or cocaine-induced (3.5 mg/kg) reinstatement. RESULTS: We replicated and extended findings by Itzhak and Anderson (Addict. Biol. 17(4): 706-16, 2011) demonstrating that Asc conditioning produces a greater CPP than either the F(L) or F(H) conditioning schedules. The magnitude of extinction expressed was similar in the Desc reconditioned and saline groups. Moreover, only the saline, and not the Desc reconditioned mice, showed stress and cocaine-induced reinstatement of CPP. CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that the schedule of cocaine administration during conditioning and reconditioning can have a significant influence on the magnitude of CPP and extinction of preference and the ability of cocaine or a stressor to reinstate CPP.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The alpha2 adrenergic receptor (α(2)-AR) antagonist yohimbine is a widely used tool for the study of anxiogenesis and stress-induced drug-seeking behavior. We previously demonstrated that yohimbine paradoxically depresses excitatory transmission in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST), a region critical to the integration of stress and reward pathways, and produces an impairment of extinction of cocaine-conditioned place preference (cocaine-CPP) independent of α(2)-AR signaling. Recent studies show yohimbine-induced drug-seeking behavior is attenuated by orexin receptor 1 (OX(1)R) antagonists. Moreover, yohimbine-induced cocaine-seeking behavior is BNST-dependent. Here, we investigated yohimbine-orexin interactions. Our results demonstrate yohimbine-induced depression of excitatory transmission in the BNST is unaffected by alpha1-AR and corticotropin-releasing factor receptor-1 (CRFR(1)) antagonists, but is (1) blocked by OxR antagonists and (2) absent in brain slices from orexin knockout mice. Although the actions of yohimbine were not mimicked by the norepinephrine transporter blocker reboxetine, they were by exogenously applied orexin A. We find that, as with yohimbine, orexin A depression of excitatory transmission in BNST is OX(1)R-dependent. Finally, we find these ex vivo effects are paralleled in vivo, as yohimbine-induced impairment of cocaine-CPP extinction is blocked by a systemically administered OX(1)R antagonist. These data highlight a new mechanism for orexin on excitatory anxiety circuits and demonstrate that some of the actions of yohimbine may be directly dependent upon orexin signaling and independent of norepinephrine and CRF in the BNST.
Neuropsychopharmacology: official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology 05/2012; 37(10):2253-66. · 6.99 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: From ANNs to NAMs! Data from an experimental metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 (mGlu(5) ) high-throughput screen (HTS) were employed to train artificial neural networks (ANNs) based on 345 confirmed negative allosteric modulators (NAMs) and 155 774 inactive compounds. This effort identified two potent mGlu(5) NAMs with a unique chemotype. Optimization afforded a tool compound (shown), active in mouse models of anxiety and addiction.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Animals will acquire an operant task using sensory stimuli as a primary reinforcer. Many operant tasks use sensory stimuli as cues that are paired with other primary reinforcers. Recent studies have called attention to this potential confound, but there has not been a parametric assessment of the effect of stimulus variability on operant responding. We found that stimulus variability increased the amount of operant responding exhibited by mice, a phenomenon observed under both fixed- and progressive-ratio schedules.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Ca(2+)-stimulated adenylyl cyclase (AC) 1 and 8 are two genes that have been shown to play critical roles in fear memory. AC1 and AC8 couple neuronal activity and intracellular Ca(2+) increases to the production of cyclic adenosine monophosphate and are localized synaptically, suggesting that Ca(2+)-stimulated ACs may modulate synaptic plasticity. Here, we first established that Ca(2+)-stimulated ACs modulate protein markers of synaptic activity at baseline and after learning. Primary hippocampal cell cultures showed that AC1/AC8 double-knockout (DKO) mice have reduced SV2, a synaptic vesicle protein, abundance along their dendritic processes, and this reduction can be rescued through lentivirus delivery of AC8 to the DKO cells. Additionally, phospho-synapsin, a protein implicated in the regulation of neurotransmitter release at the synapse, is decreased in vivo 1 h after conditioned fear (CF) training in DKO mice. Importantly, additional experiments showed that long-term potentiation deficits present in DKO mice are rescued by acutely replacing AC8 in the forebrain, further supporting the idea that Ca(2+)-stimulated AC activity is a crucial modulator of synaptic plasticity. Previous studies have demonstrated that memory is continually modulated by gene-environment interactions. The last set of experiments evaluated the effects of knocking out AC1 and AC8 genes on experience-dependent changes in CF memory. We showed that the strength of CF memory in wild-type mice is determined by previous environment, minimal or enriched, whereas memory in DKO mice is unaffected. Thus, overall these results show that AC1 and AC8 modulate markers of synaptic activity and help integrate environmental information to modulate fear memory.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) is a critical region for alcohol/drug-induced negative affect and stress-induced reinstatement. NMDA receptor (NMDAR)-dependent plasticity, such as long-term potentiation (LTP), has been postulated to play key roles in alcohol and drug addiction; yet, to date, little is understood regarding the mechanisms underlying LTP of the BNST, or its regulation by ethanol. Acute and chronic exposure to ethanol modulates glutamate transmission via actions on NMDARs. Despite intense investigation, tests of subunit specificity of ethanol actions on NMDARs using pharmacological approaches have produced mixed results. Thus, we use a conditional GluN2B KO mouse line to assess both basal and ethanol-dependent function of this subunit at glutamate synapses in the BNST. Deletion of GluN2B eliminated LTP, as well as actions of ethanol on NMDAR function. Further, we show that chronic ethanol exposure enhances LTP formation in the BNST. Using KO-validated pharmacological approaches with Ro25-6981 and memantine, we provide evidence suggesting that chronic ethanol exposure enhances LTP in the BNST via paradoxical extrasynaptic NMDAR involvement. These findings demonstrate that GluN2B is a key point of regulation for ethanol's actions and suggest a unique role of extrasynaptic GluN2B-containing receptors in facilitating LTP.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 01/2012; 109(5):E278-87. · 9.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Ca(2+)/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) is abundant in striatal medium spiny neurons (MSNs). CaMKII is dynamically regulated by changes in dopamine signaling, as occurs in Parkinson's disease as well as addiction. Although CaMKII has been extensively studied in the hippocampus where it regulates excitatory synaptic transmission, relatively little is known about how it modulates neuronal function in the striatum. Therefore, we examined the impact of selectively overexpressing an EGFP-fused CaMKII inhibitory peptide (EAC3I) in striatal medium spiny neurons (MSNs) using a novel transgenic mouse model. EAC3I-expressing cells exhibited markedly decreased excitatory transmission, indicated by a decrease in the frequency of spontaneous excitatory postsynaptic currents (sEPSCs). This decrease was not accompanied by changes in the probability of release, levels of glutamate at the synapse, or changes in dendritic spine density. CaMKII regulation of the AMPA receptor subunit GluA1 is a major means by which the kinase regulates neuronal function in the hippocampus. We found that the decrease in striatal excitatory transmission seen in the EAC3I mice is mimicked by deletion of GluA1. Further, while CaMKII inhibition decreased excitatory transmission onto MSNs, it increased their intrinsic excitability. These data suggest that CaMKII plays a critical role in setting the excitability rheostat of striatal MSNs by coordinating excitatory synaptic drive and the resulting depolarization response.
PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(9):e45323. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Glutamate is the major excitatory transmitter in the mammalian CNS, exerting its effects through both ionotropic and metabotropic glutamate receptors. The metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGlus) belong to family C of the G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). The eight mGlus identified to date are classified into three groups based on their structure, preferred signal transduction mechanisms, and pharmacology (Group I: mGlu(1) and mGlu(5); Group II: mGlu(2) and mGlu(3); Group III: mGlu(4), mGlu(6), mGlu(7), and mGlu(8)). Non-competitive antagonists, also known as negative allosteric modulators (NAMs), of mGlu(5) offer potential therapeutic applications in diseases such as pain, anxiety, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), Parkinson's disease (PD), fragile X syndrome, and addiction. The development of SAR in a (3-cyano-5-fluorophenyl)biaryl series using our functional cell-based assay is described in this communication. Further characterization of a selected compound, 3-fluoro-5-(2-methylbenzo[d]thiazol-5-yl)benzonitrile, in additional cell based assays as well as in vitro assays designed to measure its metabolic stability and protein binding indicated its potential utility as an in vivo tool. Subsequent evaluation of the same compound in a pharmacokinetic study using intraperitoneal dosing in mice showed good exposure in both plasma and brain samples. The compound was efficacious in a mouse marble burying model of anxiety, an assay known to be sensitive to mGlu(5) antagonists. A new operant model of addiction termed operant sensation seeking (OSS) was chosen as a second behavioral assay. The compound also proved efficacious in the OSS model and constitutes the first reported example of efficacy with a small molecule mGlu(5) NAM in this novel assay.
ACS Chemical Neuroscience 08/2011; 2(8):471-482. · 3.87 Impact Factor