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J Psychopharmacol. 2013 Oct;27(10):947-55. doi: 10.1177/0269881113499207. Epub 2013 Aug 7.

Cannabinoid modulation of chronic mild stress-induced selective enhancement of trace fear conditioning in adolescent rats.

Author information

1
Program in Psychology, Ramapo College of New Jersey, Mahwah, USA.

Abstract

History of stress is considered a major risk factor for the development of major depression and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Elucidating the neurobiological mechanisms of Pavlovian fear conditioning may provide insight into the etiology of PTSD. In the current study, adolescent male Sprague-Dawley rats were exposed to 3 weeks of a chronic-mild-unpredictable stress (CMS) protocol. Immediately following the CMS, the animals were subjected to hippocampal-dependent (trace and contextual) and hippocampal-independent (delay) fear conditioning. CMS exposure enhanced trace freezing behavior compared to non-stress controls. This effect was not observed in contextual or delay conditioned animals. Given that the endocannabinoid system is negatively affected by CMS procedures, separate groups of stressed rats were administered the CB1 receptor agonist, ACEA (0.1 mg/kg), prior to trace fear conditioning or a memory-recall test. Regardless of administration time, ACEA significantly reduced freezing behavior in stressed animals. Furthermore, when administered during the first memory recall test, ACEA enhanced long-term extinction in both stress and non-stress groups. The results demonstrate that chronic unpredictable stress selectively enhances hippocampal-dependent episodic fear memories. Pathologies of the episodic memory and fear response may increase the susceptibility of developing PTSD. Reduction in fear responses via exogenous activation of the CB1 receptor suggests that a deficiency in the endocannabinoid system contributes to this pathology.

KEYWORDS:

CB1 receptor; PTSD; depression; hippocampus; learning

PMID:
23926242
PMCID:
PMC3883309
DOI:
10.1177/0269881113499207
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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