Raphe GABAergic neurons mediate the acquisition of avoidance after social defeat

Collin Challis, Janette Boulden, Avin Veerakumar, Julie Espallergues, Fair M. Vassoler, R. Christopher Pierce, Sheryl G. Beck, Olivier Berton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

120 Scopus citations


Serotonin (5-HT) modulates neural responses to socioaffective cues and can bias approach or avoidance behavioral decisions, yet the cellular mechanisms underlying its contribution to the regulation of social experiences remain poorly understood.Wehypothesized that GABAergic neurons in the dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN) may participate in socioaffective regulation by controlling serotonergic tone during social interaction. We tested this hypothesis using whole-cell recording techniques in genetically identified DRN GABA and 5-HT neurons in mice exposed to social defeat, a model that induces long-lasting avoidance behaviors in a subset of mice responsive to serotonergic antidepressants. Our results revealed that social defeat engagedDRNGABAneurons and drove GABAergic sensitization that strengthened inhibition of 5-HT neurons in mice that were susceptible, but not resilient to social defeat. Furthermore, optogenetic silencing of DRN GABA neurons disinhibited neighboring 5-HT neurons and prevented the acquisition of social avoidance in mice exposed to a social threat, but did not affect a previously acquired avoidance phenotype. We provide the first characterization of GABA neurons in the DRN that monosynaptically inhibit 5-HT neurons and reveal their key role in neuroplastic processes underlying the development of social avoidance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13978-13988
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number35
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Raphe GABAergic neurons mediate the acquisition of avoidance after social defeat'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this