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Mol Pain. 2007 Jun 5;3:13.

Pain-related anxiety-like behavior requires CRF1 receptors in the amygdala.

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Department of Neuroscience and Cell Biology, The University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas 77555-1069, USA.


Corticotropin-releasing factor receptor CRF1 has been implicated in the neurobiological mechanisms of anxiety and depression. The amygdala plays an important role in affective states and disorders such as anxiety and depression. The amygdala is also emerging as a neural substrate of pain affect. However, the involvement of the amygdala in the interaction of pain and anxiety remains to be determined. This study tested the hypothesis that CRF1 receptors in the amygdala are critically involved in pain-related anxiety. Anxiety-like behavior was determined in adult male rats using the elevated plus maze (EPM) test. The open-arm preference (ratio of open arm entries to the total number of entries) was measured. Nocifensive behavior was assessed by measuring hindlimb withdrawal thresholds for noxious mechanical stimulation of the knee. Measurements were made in normal rats and in rats with arthritis induced in one knee by intraarticular injections of kaolin/carrageenan. A selective CRF1 receptor antagonist (NBI27914) or vehicle was administered systemically (i.p.) or into the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA, by microdialysis). The arthritis group showed a decreased preference for the open arms in the EPM and decreased hindlimb withdrawal thresholds. Systemic or intraamygdalar (into the CeA) administration of NBI27914, but not vehicle, inhibited anxiety-like behavior and nocifensive pain responses, nearly reversing the arthritis pain-related changes. This study shows for the first time that CRF1 receptors in the amygdala contribute critically to pain-related anxiety-like behavior and nocifensive responses in a model of arthritic pain. The results are a direct demonstration that the clinically well-documented relationship between pain and anxiety involves the amygdala.

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