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Neuroscience. 2001;102(4):853-61.

N-Methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonism blocks contextual fear conditioning and differentially regulates early growth response-1 messenger RNA expression in the amygdala: implications for a functional amygdaloid circuit of fear.

Author information

1
Program in Neuroscience and Department of Psychology, 220 Wolf Hall, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716, USA.

Abstract

N-Methyl-D-aspartate receptors in the amygdala are known to be crucial for the learning of conditioned fear, although the molecular cascades that N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors regulate are not well understood. Recent experiments from our laboratory have shown that messenger RNA expression of the immediate-early messenger gene, early growth response gene 1, increases in the lateral nucleus of the amygdala following contextual fear conditioning. However, the regulation of the increase in early growth response gene 1 expression is not known. To determine if N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors regulate both fear conditioning and the increase in early growth response gene 1 expression in the lateral nucleus of the amygdala, rats were infused i.c.v. with 2.5microg of the N-methyl-D-aspartate antagonist, DL-2-amino-5-phosphonovalerate. Most rats were killed 30min following one-trial contextual fear conditioning and their brains were processed for in situ hybridization detection of early growth response gene 1 messenger RNA expression. The remainder of the rats was tested for retention of fear conditioning 24h later. In DL-2-amino-5-phosphonovalerate-treated rats, post-shock freezing remained intact, whereas fear-conditioned freezing during the retention test was abolished. Image analysis of early growth response gene 1 messenger RNA revealed that DL-2-amino-5-phosphonovalerate blocked the fear-conditioning-associated increase in early growth response gene 1 expression in the lateral nucleus of the amygdala. In addition, DL-2-amino-5-phosphonovalerate significantly increased early growth response gene 1 expression in the central nucleus of the amygdala. The results reveal differential regulation of early growth response gene 1 messenger RNA in the amygdala by N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors and argue for a functional role of early growth response gene 1 in the formation of long-term memory for contextual fear. Furthermore, the results indicate a functional neuroanatomical circuit within the amygdala that includes dampening of excitatory and activation of inhibitory processes in distinct amygdala nuclei, resulting in the reduction of fear conditioning.

PMID:
11182248
DOI:
10.1016/s0306-4522(00)00531-5
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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