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Neuroscience. 2008 Jun 26;154(3):869-76. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2008.04.007. Epub 2008 Apr 11.

Anxiolytic-like effects induced by acute reversible inactivation of the bed nucleus of stria terminalis.

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Department of Pharmacology, School of Medicine of Ribeirão Preto, University of São Paulo, USP, Av. Bandeirantes 3900, 14049-900, Ribeirão Preto, São Paulo, 14049-900, Brazil.


There is conflicting evidence concerning the role of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) in fear and anxiety-elicited behavior. Most of the studies investigating this role, however, employed irreversible lesions of this nucleus. The objective of the present study was to investigate the effects of an acute and reversible inactivation of the BNST in rats submitted to the Vogel conflict test (VCT) and contextual fear conditioning, two widely employed animal models that are responsive to prototypal anxiolytic drugs. Male Wistar rats were submitted to stereotaxic surgery to bilaterally implant cannulae into the BNST. Ten minutes before the test they received bilateral microinjections of cobalt chloride (CoCl(2)) (1 mM/100 nL), a nonselective synapse blocker. CoCl(2) produced anxiolytic-like effects in tests, increasing the number of punished licks in the VCT and decreasing freezing behavior and the increase in mean arterial blood pressure and heart rate of animals re-exposed to the context where they had received electrical foot shocks 24 h before. The results indicate that the BNST is engaged in behavioral responses elicited by punished stimuli and aversively conditioned contexts, reinforcing its proposed role in anxiety.

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