4 years ago

Conditioned fear is modulated by CRF mechanisms in the periaqueductal gray columns

The periaqueductal gray (PAG) columns have been implicated in controlling stress responses through corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF), which is a neuropeptide with a prominent role in the etiology of fear- and anxiety-related psychopathologies. Several studies have investigated the involvement of dorsal PAG (dPAG) CRF mechanisms in models of unconditioned fear. However, less is known about the role of this neurotransmission in the expression of conditioned fear memories in the dPAG and ventrolateral PAG (vlPAG) columns. We assessed the effects of ovine CRF (oCRF 0.25 and 1.0μg/0.2μL) locally administered into the dPAG and vlPAG on behavioral (fear-potentiated startle and freezing) and autonomic (arterial pressure and heart rate) responses in rats subjected to contextual fear conditioning. The lower dose injected into the columns promoted proaversive effects, enhanced contextual freezing, increased the blood pressure and heart rate and decreased tail temperature. The lower dose of oCRF into the vlPAG, but not into the dPAG, produced a pronounced enhancement of the fear-potentiated startle response. The results imply that the PAG is a heterogeneous structure that is involved in the coordination of distinct behaviors and autonomic control, suggest PAG involvement in the expression of contextual fear memory as well as implicate the CRF as an important modulator of the neural substrates of fear in the PAG.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S0018506X13000895

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