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Physiol Behav. 2014 Apr 22;129:186-93. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2014.02.019. Epub 2014 Feb 22.

Effect of recurrent yohimbine on immediate and post-hoc behaviors, stress hormones, and energy homeostatic parameters.

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VA Puget Sound Health Care System (151), Seattle, WA 98108, USA; Dept. of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA. Electronic address:
Dept. of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.
VA Puget Sound Health Care System (151), Seattle, WA 98108, USA.
Faculty of Medicine, Institute of Experimental and Clinical Medicine, University of Latvia, Riga LV-1586, Latvia.


Evidence from experimental models has suggested that acute activation of brain stress and anxiety pathways impacts subsequent behaviors that are mediated or modulated by limbic circuitry. There have been limited investigations of prior or chronic activation of these pathways on subsequent limbic-mediated behaviors. In this study, we tested whether recurrent administration of the anxiogenic compound yohimbine (YOH) could have post-injection effects on brain activation, stress hormones, and performance in sucrose self-administration and startle response paradigms. Rats received six injections across two weeks of either 2mg/kg YOH or saline. Behavioral evaluation confirmed the continued efficacy of the YOH regimen, and increased adrenal corticosterone (CORT) was observed. Several days following YOH or SAL administration, cFos, CORT and adrenocorticotropin hormone (ACTH), and behavioral performance were measured. cFos was elevated post-YOH in the hippocampus; ventral tegmental area/zona inserta; and central and medial nuclei of the amygdala. This activation is consistent with a sustained effect of YOH to activate fear and anxiety circuitries in the CNS. CORT but not ACTH was elevated in the YOH-rats following startle testing. Self-administration and startle tests suggested an increase of non-specific activity in the post-YOH rats; there was no increase in sucrose self-administration or startle response per se. Our findings suggest that recurrent YOH administration may prove a useful and reliable model for simulating recurrent stress/anxiety, and that enhancements to the paradigm such as higher or more frequent dosing of YOH could yield stronger or more extensive behavioral effects.


Glucocorticoids; Rats; Stress; cFos

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