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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2009 Jan;34(2):331-40. doi: 10.1038/npp.2008.55. Epub 2008 Apr 16.

Effects of substance P in the amygdala, ventromedial hypothalamus, and periaqueductal gray on fear-potentiated startle.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30329, USA.

Abstract

The neural pathways through which substance P (SP) influences fear and anxiety are poorly understood. However, the amygdala, a brain area repeatedly implicated in fear and anxiety processes, is known to contain large numbers of SP-containing neurons and SP receptors. Several studies have implicated SP neurotransmission within the amygdala in anxiety processes. In the present study, we evaluated the effects of site-specific infusions of an SP receptor antagonist, GR 82334, on conditioned fear responses using the fear-potentiated startle paradigm. GR 82334 infusion into the basolateral (BLA) or the medial (MeA) nuclei of the amygdala, but not into the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA), dose dependently reduced fear-potentiated startle. Similar effects were obtained with GR 82334 infusion into the ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus (VMH), to which the MeA projects, and into the rostral dorsolateral periaqueductal gray (PAG), to which the VMH projects, but not into the deep layers of the superior colliculus/deep mesencephalic nucleus (dSC/DpMe), an output of the CeA previously shown to be important for fear-potentiated startle. Consistent with previous findings, infusion of the AMPA receptor antagonist, NBQX, into the dSC/DpMe, but not into the PAG, did disrupt fear-potentiated startle. These findings suggest that multiple outputs from the amygdala play a critical role in fear-potentiated startle and that SP plays a critical, probably modulatory role, in the MeA to VMH to PAG to the startle pathway based on these and data from others.

PMID:
18418359
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3792658
Free PMC Article
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