A highly conserved network of brain structures regulates the expression of fear and anxiety in mammals. Many of these structures display abnormal activity levels in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, some of them, like the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) and amygdala, are comprised of several small sub-regions or nuclei that cannot be resolved with human neuroimaging techniques. Therefore, we used a well-characterized rat model of PTSD to compare neuronal properties in resilient vs PTSD-like rats using patch recordings obtained from different BNST and amygdala regions in vitro. In this model, a persistent state of extreme anxiety is induced in a subset of susceptible rats following predatory threat. Previous animal studies have revealed that the central amygdala (CeA) and BNST are differentially involved in the genesis of fear and anxiety-like states, respectively. Consistent with these earlier findings, we found that between resilient and PTSD-like rats were marked differences in the synaptic responsiveness of neurons in different sectors of BNST and CeA, but whose polarity was region specific. In light of prior data about the role of these regions, our results suggest that control of fear/anxiety expression is altered in PTSD-like rats such that the influence of CeA is minimized whereas that of BNST is enhanced. A model of the amygdalo-BNST interactions supporting the PTSD-like state is proposed.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Biological Psychiatry