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PLoS One. 2011;6(7):e22600. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0022600. Epub 2011 Jul 27.

Social defeat: impact on fear extinction and amygdala-prefrontal cortical theta synchrony in 5-HTT deficient mice.

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1
Institute of Physiology I, Westfälische Wilhelms-University, Münster, Germany.

Abstract

Emotions, such as fear and anxiety, can be modulated by both environmental and genetic factors. One genetic factor is for example the genetically encoded variation of the serotonin transporter (5-HTT) expression. In this context, the 5-HTT plays a key role in the regulation of central 5-HT neurotransmission, which is critically involved in the physiological regulation of emotions including fear and anxiety. However, a systematic study which examines the combined influence of environmental and genetic factors on fear-related behavior and the underlying neurophysiological basis is missing. Therefore, in this study we used the 5-HTT-deficient mouse model for studying emotional dysregulation to evaluate consequences of genotype specific disruption of 5-HTT function and repeated social defeat for fear-related behaviors and corresponding neurophysiological activities in the lateral amygdala (LA) and infralimbic region of the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) in male 5-HTT wild-type (+/+), homo- (-/-) and heterozygous (+/-) mice. Naive males and experienced losers (generated in a resident-intruder paradigm) of all three genotypes, unilaterally equipped with recording electrodes in LA and mPFC, underwent a Pavlovian fear conditioning. Fear memory and extinction of conditioned fear was examined while recording neuronal activity simultaneously with fear-related behavior. Compared to naive 5-HTT+/+ and +/- mice, 5-HTT-/- mice showed impaired recall of extinction. In addition, 5-HTT-/- and +/- experienced losers showed delayed extinction learning and impaired recall of extinction. Impaired behavioral responses were accompanied by increased theta synchronization between the LA and mPFC during extinction learning in 5-HTT-/- and +/- losers. Furthermore, impaired extinction recall was accompanied with increased theta synchronization in 5-HTT-/- naive and in 5-HTT-/- and +/- loser mice. In conclusion, extinction learning and memory of conditioned fear can be modulated by both the 5-HTT gene activity and social experiences in adulthood, accompanied by corresponding alterations of the theta activity in the amygdala-prefrontal cortex network.

PMID:
21818344
PMCID:
PMC3144906
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0022600
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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