Conditioned fear is modulated by D-2 receptor pathway connecting the ventral tegmental area and basolateral amygdala

ArticleinNeurobiology of Learning and Memory 95(1):37-45 · October 2010with13 Reads
DOI: 10.1016/j.nlm.2010.10.005 · Source: PubMed
Abstract
Excitation of the mesocorticolimbic pathway, originating from dopaminergic neurons in the ventral tegmental area (VTA), may be important for the development of exaggerated fear responding. Among the forebrain regions innervated by this pathway, the amygdala is an essential component of the neural circuitry of conditioned fear. The functional role of the dopaminergic pathway connecting the VTA to the basolateral amygdala (BLA) in fear and anxiety has received little attention. In vivo microdialysis was performed to measure dopamine levels in the BLA of Wistar rats that received the dopamine D(2) agonist quinpirole (1 μg/0.2 μl) into the VTA and were subjected to a fear conditioning test using a light as the conditioned stimulus (CS). The effects of intra-BLA injections of the D(1) antagonist SCH 23390 (1 and 2 μg/0.2 μl) and D(2) antagonist sulpiride (1 and 2 μg/0.2 μl) on fear-potentiated startle (FPS) to a light-CS were also assessed. Locomotor performance was evaluated by use of open-field and rotarod tests. Freezing and increased dopamine levels in the BLA in response to the CS were both inhibited by intra-VTA quinpirole. Whereas intra-BLA SCH 23390 did not affect FPS, intra-BLA sulpiride (2 μg) inhibited FPS. Sulpiride's ability to decrease FPS cannot be attributed to nonspecific effects because this drug did not affect motor performance. These findings indicate that the dopamine D(2) receptor pathway connecting the ventral tegmental area and the basolateral amygdala modulates fear and anxiety and may be a novel pharmacological target for the treatment of anxiety.
    • "Depending on the type of threatening condition (i.e., conditioned or unconditioned), dopamine D 2 receptor antagonists may reduce or heighten the aversiveness of the situation. Intra-BLA injections of these compounds clearly reduce conditioned fear in rats that are subjected to animal models of anxiety [20,21,14,23]. To test the hypothesis that dopamine plays a modulatory role in the neural substrates of fear in periventricular structures, we microinjected dopamine receptor antagonists into the IC to inhibit D 2 receptor-mediated mechanisms. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A reduction of dopamine release or D2 receptor blockade in the terminal fields of the mesolimbic system, particularly the amygdala, clearly reduces conditioned fear. Similar D2 receptor antagonism in the neural substrates of fear in the midbrain tectum attenuates the processing of unconditioned aversive information. However, the implications of the interplay between opposing actions of dopamine in the rostral and caudal segments of the dopaminergic system are still unclear. Previous studies from this laboratory have reported the effects of dopaminergic drugs on behavior in rats in the elevated plus maze, auditory-evoked potentials (AEPs) recorded from the midbrain tectum, fear-potentiated startle, and conditioned freezing. These findings led to an interesting framework on the functional roles of dopamine in both anxiety and fear states. Dopamine D2 receptor inhibition in the terminal fields of the mesolimbic dopamine system generally causes anxiolytic-like effects, whereas the activity of midbrain substrates of unconditioned fear are enhanced by D2 receptor antagonists, suggesting that D2 receptor-mediated mechanisms play opposing roles in fear/anxiety processes, depending on the brain region under study. Dopamine appears to mediate conditioned fear by acting at rostral levels of the brain and regulate unconditioned fear at the midbrain level, likely by reducing the sensorimotor gating of aversive events. Copyright © 2015 Federation of European Biochemical Societies. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2015
    • "In the present study, we compared outcomes when the stimuli (loud sounds) were immediately available to the IC for sensory processing (AEPs) and action outcomes when cortical or limbic processing of the signal was also required (EPM). We previously showed that conditioned fear, which recruits the mesocorticolimbic system, was significantly impaired by the DA receptor antagonist sulpiride [19,34,51]. In contrast, when the stimulus was eligible for IC processing as in the present study, the role of DA neurons associated with aversive situations that activated afferent sensory pathways via the IC appeared to be primary and possibly instrumental, and sulpiride increased the aversiveness of these stimuli. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background A reduction of dopamine release or D2 receptor blockade in the terminal fields of the mesolimbic system clearly reduces conditioned fear. Injections of haloperidol, a preferential D2 receptor antagonist, into the inferior colliculus (IC) enhance the processing of unconditioned aversive information. However, a clear characterization of the interplay of D2 receptors in the mediation of unconditioned and conditioned fear is still lacking. Methods The present study investigated the effects of intra-IC injections of the D2 receptor-selective antagonist sulpiride on behavior in the elevated plus maze (EPM), auditory-evoked potentials (AEPs) to loud sounds recorded from the IC, fear-potentiated startle (FPS), and conditioned freezing. Results Intra-IC injections of sulpiride caused clear proaversive effects in the EPM and enhanced AEPs induced by loud auditory stimuli. Intra-IC sulpiride administration did not affect FPS or conditioned freezing. Conclusions Dopamine D2-like receptors of the inferior colliculus play a role in the modulation of unconditioned aversive information but not in the fear-potentiated startle response.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2014
    • "The neuroleptic action of haloperidol has generally been associated to the reduction of neurotransmission in the DA mesolimbic system (Hillegaart and Ahlenius, 1987; Farde et al., 1988; Nyberg et al., 1995). The notion of the mediation of conditioned fear by D2- receptor mechanisms comes from previous studies of this laboratory showing that the D2-receptor agonist quinpirole and the D2-receptor antagonist sulpiride enhances and impairs conditioned fear responses, respectively (De Oliveira et al., 2009, 2011). Interestingly enough, it appears that the density of D2 receptors largely predominates over other DA receptors in the IC (see Hurdy et al., 2001). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Chemical and electrical stimulation of the inferior colliculus (IC) causes defensive behavior. Electrical stimulation of the IC at the escape threshold enhances dopamine (DA) release in the prefrontal cortex. Intra-ventral tegmental area injections of quinpirole at doses that act presynaptically reduce the release of DA in the terminal fields of the mesolimbic system and clearly reduce conditioned fear in several animal models of anxiety. However, little is known about the involvement of DA in the mediation of unconditioned fear, such as the reactivity to acute stressors. The present study investigated the neural substrates mediated by DA transmission associated with emotional changes triggered by the activation or inhibition of D2 receptors during conditioned and unconditioned fear. We examined the effects of systemic or local injections of the DA-receptor antagonist and agonist haloperidol and quinpirole, respectively, into the IC in rats subjected to fear-potentiated startle, a Pavlovian paradigm that uses loud sounds as the unconditioned stimulus and light previously paired with footshock as the conditioned stimulus. We also assessed auditory-evoked potentials (AEPs) recorded from electrodes implanted in the IC. Intraperitoneal haloperidol administration dose-dependently enhanced AEPs induced by loud tones and inhibited fear-potentiated startle. Intra-IC injections of quinpirole left AEPs unchanged, suggesting that an optimal level of postsynaptic D2 receptors in the IC may regulate the transmission of aversive information through the midbrain tectum. These findings provide evidence of opposing DA-mediated mechanisms in fear/anxiety processes that depend on the area under study. The activity of the neural substrates of conditioned fear was attenuated by haloperidol, whereas midbrain neural substrates of unconditioned fear were enhanced. Thus, DA appears to regulate unconditioned fear at the midbrain level, likely by reducing the sensory gating of aversive events and reducing conditioned fear by acting at more rostral levels of the brain.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2014
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