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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2003 Jun;28(6):1031-44. Epub 2003 Apr 9.

Galanin GAL-R1 receptor null mutant mice display increased anxiety-like behavior specific to the elevated plus-maze.

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  • 1Section on Behavioral Genomics, National Institute of Mental Health, NIH, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


The neuropeptide galanin coexists with norepinephrine and serotonin in neural systems mediating emotion. Previous findings suggested that galanin modulates anxiety-related behaviors in rodents. Three galanin receptor subtypes have been cloned; however, understanding their functions has been limited by the lack of galanin receptor subtype-selective ligands. To study the role of the galanin GAL-R1 receptor subtype in mediating anxiety-related behavior, we generated mice with a null mutation in the Galr1 gene. GAL-R1 -/- are viable and show no abnormalities in health, neurological reflexes, motoric functions, or sensory abilities. On a battery of tests for anxiety-like behavior, GAL-R1 -/- showed increased anxiety-like behavior on the elevated plus-maze test. Anxiety-related behaviors on the light/dark exploration, emergence, and open field tests were normal in GAL-R1 -/-. This test-specific anxiety-like phenotype was confirmed in a second, independent cohort of GAL-R1 null mutant mice and +/+ controls. Principal components factor analysis of behavioral scores from 279 mice suggested that anxiety-like behavior on the elevated plus-maze was qualitatively distinct from behavior on other tests in the battery. In addition, exposure to the elevated plus-maze produced a significantly greater neuroendocrine response than exposure to the light/dark exploration test, as analyzed in normal C57BL/6J mice. These behavioral findings in the first galanin receptor null mutant mouse are consistent with the hypothesis that galanin exerts anxiolytic actions via the GAL-R1 receptor under conditions of relatively high stress.

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