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Neurosci Lett. 2013 Jan 15;533:34-8. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2012.11.016. Epub 2012 Nov 21.

Predator threat stress promotes long lasting anxiety-like behaviors and modulates synaptophysin and CB1 receptors expression in brain areas associated with PTSD symptoms.

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Department of Pharmacology, School of Medicine of Ribeirão Preto, University of São Paulo, 3900 Av. Bandeirantes, Monte Alegre, Ribeirão Preto, São Paulo, Brazil.


Several studies have suggested that changes in hippocampal, prefrontal cortex and amygdaloid complex function are associated with the main symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Predator exposure can mimic some aspects of PSTD such as hyperarousal and chronic anxiety. However, little is known about the neural substrate involved in this model. Synaptophysin (SYP) expression has been used to evaluate synaptic plastic changes while cannabinoids have emerged as a therapeutic target for the treatment of stress- and anxiety-related disorders. The present work evaluated whether the long lasting behavioral effects evoked by predator exposure are associated to long-term changes in the expression of the Cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) and the synaptic protein SYP in brain areas related to the genesis of PTSD symptoms (frontal cortex, hippocampus and amygdaloid complex). Male Wistar rats were exposed to a live or a dummy cat and seven days later submitted to the elevated plus maze test. To explore possible neurobiological mechanisms involved in these effects, CB1 receptor and SYP mRNA expression were measured in the hippocampus, frontal cortex and amygdaloid complex. Single predator exposure promoted long-lasting anxiogenic effects. Seven days after predator threat CB1 mRNA expression was down regulated in the frontal cortex and amygdaloid complex while SYP gene was up regulated in the amygdaloid complex. Our results suggested that predator exposure causes long-lasting anxiogenic effects associated with hyperactivation of amygdaloid complex and modulation of CB1 receptor in brain areas related to PTSD symptoms.

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