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J Neurosci. 2011 Apr 20;31(16):6008-18. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5836-10.2011.

Serotonin-1A autoreceptors are necessary and sufficient for the normal formation of circuits underlying innate anxiety.

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Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University, New York, New York 10032, USA.


Identifying the factors contributing to the etiology of anxiety and depression is critical for the development of more efficacious therapies. Serotonin (5-HT) is intimately linked to both disorders. The inhibitory serotonin-1A (5-HT(1A)) receptor exists in two separate populations with distinct effects on serotonergic signaling: (1) an autoreceptor that limits 5-HT release throughout the brain and (2) a heteroreceptor that mediates inhibitory responses to released 5-HT. Traditional pharmacologic and transgenic strategies have not addressed the distinct roles of these two receptor populations. Here we use a recently developed genetic mouse system to independently manipulate 5-HT(1A) autoreceptor and heteroreceptor populations. We show that 5-HT(1A) autoreceptors act to affect anxiety-like behavior. In contrast, 5-HT(1A) heteroreceptors affect responses to forced swim stress, without effects on anxiety-like behavior. Together with our previously reported work, these results establish distinct roles for the two receptor populations, providing evidence that signaling through endogenous 5-HT(1A) autoreceptors is necessary and sufficient for the establishment of normal anxiety-like behavior.

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