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Substance use may confound the study of brain structure in schizophrenia. We used voxel-based morphometry (VBM) to examine whether differences in regional gray matter volumes exist between schizophrenia patients with (n = 92) and without (n = 66) clinically significant cannabis and/or alcohol use histories compared to 88 healthy control subjects. Relative to controls, patients with schizophrenia had reduced gray matter volume in the bilateral precentral gyrus, right medial frontal cortex, right visual cortex, right occipital pole, right thalamus, bilateral amygdala, and bilateral cerebellum regardless of substance use history. Within these regions, we found no volume differences between patients with schizophrenia and a history of cannabis and/or alcohol compared to patients with schizophrenia without a clinically significant substance use history. Our data support the idea that a clinically meaningful history of alcohol or cannabis use does not significantly compound the gray matter deficits associated with schizophrenia.
Copyright © 2018. Published by Elsevier B.V.
Stress is a ubiquitous risk factor for the exacerbation and development of affective disorders including major depression and posttraumatic stress disorder. Understanding the neurobiological mechanisms conferring resilience to the adverse consequences of stress could have broad implications for the treatment and prevention of mood and anxiety disorders. We utilize laboratory mice and their innate inter-individual differences in stress-susceptibility to demonstrate a critical role for the endogenous cannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) in stress-resilience. Specifically, systemic 2-AG augmentation is associated with a stress-resilient phenotype and enhances resilience in previously susceptible mice, while systemic 2-AG depletion or CB1 receptor blockade increases susceptibility in previously resilient mice. Moreover, stress-resilience is associated with increased phasic 2-AG-mediated synaptic suppression at ventral hippocampal-amygdala glutamatergic synapses and amygdala-specific 2-AG depletion impairs successful adaptation to repeated stress. These data indicate amygdala 2-AG signalling mechanisms promote resilience to adverse effects of acute traumatic stress and facilitate adaptation to repeated stress exposure.
BACKGROUND - Cognitive bias is a common characteristic of major depressive disorder (MDD) and is posited to remain during remission and contribute to recurrence risk. Attention bias may be related to enhanced amygdala activity or altered amygdala functional connectivity in depression. The current study examined attention bias, brain activity for emotional images, and functional connectivity in post-menopausal women with and without a history of major depression.
METHODS - Attention bias for emotionally valenced images was examined in 33 postmenopausal women with (n=12) and without (n=21) a history of major depression using an emotion dot probe task during fMRI. Group differences in amygdala activity and functional connectivity were assessed using fMRI and examined for correlations to attention performance.
RESULTS - Women with a history of MDD showed greater attentional bias for negative images and greater activity in brain areas including the amygdala for both positive and negative images (pcorr <0.001) than women without a history of MDD. In all participants, amygdala activity for negative images was correlated with attention facilitation for emotional images. Women with a history of MDD had significantly greater functional connectivity between the amygdala and hippocampal complex. In all participants amygdala-hippocampal connectivity was positively correlated with attention facilitation for negative images.
LIMITATIONS - Small sample with unbalanced groups.
CONCLUSIONS - These findings provide evidence for negative attentional bias in euthymic, remitted depressed individuals. Activity and functional connectivity in limbic and attention networks may provide a neurobiological basis for continued cognitive bias in remitted depression.
Copyright © 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
The amygdala (AMG) has been repeatedly implicated in the processing of threatening and negatively valenced stimuli and multiple fMRI paradigms have reported personality, genetic, and psychopathological associations with individual differences in AMG activation in these paradigms. Yet the interchangeability of activations in these probes has not been established, thus it remains unclear if we can interpret AMG responses on specific tasks as general markers of its reactivity. In this study we aimed to assess if different tasks that have been widely used within the Affective Neuroscience literature consistently recruit the AMG.
METHOD - Thirty-two young healthy subjects completed four fMRI tasks that have all been previously shown to probe the AMG during processing of threatening stimuli: the Threat Face Matching (TFM), the Cued Aversive Picture (CAP), the Aversive and Erotica Pictures (AEP) and the Screaming Lady paradigm (SLp) tasks. Contrasts testing response to aversive stimuli relative to baseline or neutral stimuli were generated and correlations between activations in the AMG were calculated across tasks were performed for ROIs of the AMG.
RESULTS - The TFM, CAP and AEP, but not the SLp, successfully recruit the AMG, among other brain regions, especially when contrasts were against baseline or nonsocial stimuli. Conjunction analysis across contrasts showed that visual cortices (VisCtx) were also consistently recruited. Correlation analysis between the extracted data for right and left AMG did not yield significant associations across tasks. By contrast, the extracted signal in VisCtx showed significant associations across tasks (range r=0.511-r=0.630).
CONCLUSIONS - Three of the four paradigms revealed significant AMG reactivity, but individual differences in the magnitudes of AMG reactivity were not correlated across paradigms. By contrast, VisCtx activation appears to be a better candidate than the AMG as a measure of individual differences with convergent validity across negative emotion processing paradigms.
Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Early-life inflammation has been shown to exert profound effects on brain development and behavior, including altered emotional behavior, stress responsivity and neurochemical/neuropeptide receptor expression and function. The current study extends this research by examining the impact of inflammation, triggered with the bacterial compound lipopolysaccharide (LPS) on postnatal day (P) 14, on social behavior during adolescence. We investigated the role that the endocannabinoid (eCB) system plays in sociability after early-life LPS. To test this, multiple cohorts of Sprague Dawley rats were injected with LPS on P14. In adolescence, rats were subjected to behavioral testing in a reciprocal social interaction paradigm as well as the open field. We quantified eCB levels in the amygdala of P14 and adolescent animals (anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol) as well as adolescent amygdaloid cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) binding site density and the hydrolytic activity of the enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), which metabolizes the eCB anandamide. Additionally, we examined the impact of FAAH inhibition on alterations in social behavior. Our results indicate that P14 LPS decreases adolescent social behavior (play and social non-play) in males and females at P40. This behavioral alteration is accompanied by decreased CB1 binding, increased anandamide levels and increased FAAH activity. Oral administration of the FAAH inhibitor PF-04457845 (1mg/kg) prior to the social interaction task normalizes LPS-induced alterations in social behavior, while not affecting social behavior in the control group. Infusion of 10ng PF-04457845 into the basolateral amygdala normalized social behavior in LPS injected females. These data suggest that alterations in eCB signaling following postnatal inflammation contribute to impairments in social behavior during adolescence and that inhibition of FAAH could be a novel target for disorders involving social deficits such as social anxiety disorders or autism.
Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Sustained exposure to stress or corticosteroids is known to cause changes in brain endocannabinoid (eCB) signaling, such that tissue contents of the eCBs N-arachidonylethanolamine (AEA) are generally reduced while 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) levels increase. These changes in eCB signaling are important for many of the aspects of chronic stress, such as anxiety, reward sensitivity and stress adaptation, yet the mechanisms mediating these changes are not fully understood. We have recently found that the stress-related neuropeptide corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), acting through the CRH type 1 receptor (CRHR1), can reduce AEA content by increasing its hydrolysis by the enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) as well as increase 2-AG contents. As extra-hypothalamic CRH is upregulated by chronic corticosteroid or stress exposure, we hypothesized that increased CRH signaling through CRHR1 contributes to the effects of chronic corticosteroid exposure on the eCB system within the amygdala and prefrontal cortex. Male rats were exposed to 7 days of systemic corticosterone capsules, with or without concurrent exposure to a CRHR1 antagonist, after which we examined eCB content. Consistent with previous studies in the amygdala, sustained corticosterone exposure increases CRH mRNA in the prefrontal cortex. As was shown previously, FAAH activity was increased and AEA contents were reduced within the amygdala and prefrontal cortex following chronic corticosterone exposure. Chronic corticosterone exposure also elevated 2-AG content in the prefrontal cortex but not the amygdala. These corticosteroid-driven changes were all blocked by systemic CRHR1 antagonism. Consistent with these data indicating sustained increases in CRH signaling can mediate the effects of chronic elevations in corticosteroids, CRH overexpressing mice also exhibited increased FAAH-mediated AEA hydrolysis in the amygdala and prefrontal cortex compared to wild type. CRH overexpression increased 2-AG content in the amygdala, but not the prefrontal cortex. These data indicate that chronic elevations in CRH signaling, as is seen following exposure to chronic elevations in corticosterone or stress, drive persistent changes in eCB function. As reductions in AEA signaling mediate the effects of CRH and chronic stress on anxiety, these data provide a mechanism linking these processes.
Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Pharmacologically elevating brain endocannabinoids (eCBs) share anxiolytic and fear extinction-facilitating properties with classical therapeutics, including the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, fluoxetine. There are also known functional interactions between the eCB and serotonin systems and preliminary evidence that antidepressants cause alterations in brain eCBs. However, the potential role of eCBs in mediating the facilitatory effects of fluoxetine on fear extinction has not been established. Here, to test for a possible mechanistic contribution of eCBs to fluoxetine's proextinction effects, we integrated biochemical, electrophysiological, pharmacological, and behavioral techniques, using the extinction-impaired 129S1/Sv1mJ mouse strain. Chronic fluoxetine treatment produced a significant and selective increase in levels of anandamide in the BLA, and an associated decrease in activity of the anandamide-catabolizing enzyme, fatty acid amide hydrolase. Slice electrophysiological recordings showed that fluoxetine-induced increases in anandamide were associated with the amplification of eCB-mediated tonic constraint of inhibitory, but not excitatory, transmission in the BLA. Behaviorally, chronic fluoxetine facilitated extinction retrieval in a manner that was prevented by systemic or BLA-specific blockade of CB1 receptors. In contrast to fluoxetine, citalopram treatment did not increase BLA eCBs or facilitate extinction. Taken together, these findings reveal a novel, obligatory role for amygdala eCBs in the proextinction effects of a major pharmacotherapy for trauma- and stressor-related disorders and anxiety disorders.
Surgery can be a highly effective treatment for medically refractory temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). The emergence of minimally invasive resective and nonresective treatment options has led to interest in epilepsy surgery among patients and providers. Nevertheless, not all procedures are appropriate for all patients, and it is critical to consider seizure outcomes with each of these approaches, as seizure freedom is the greatest predictor of patient quality of life. Standard anterior temporal lobectomy (ATL) remains the gold standard in the treatment of TLE, with seizure freedom resulting in 60-80% of patients. It is currently the only resective epilepsy surgery supported by randomized controlled trials and offers the best protection against lateral temporal seizure onset. Selective amygdalohippocampectomy techniques preserve the lateral cortex and temporal stem to varying degrees and can result in favorable rates of seizure freedom but the risk of recurrent seizures appears slightly greater than with ATL, and it is not clear whether neuropsychological outcomes are improved with selective approaches. Stereotactic radiosurgery presents an opportunity to avoid surgery altogether, with seizure outcomes now under investigation. Stereotactic laser thermo-ablation allows destruction of the mesial temporal structures with low complication rates and minimal recovery time, and outcomes are also under study. Finally, while neuromodulatory devices such as responsive neurostimulation, vagus nerve stimulation, and deep brain stimulation have a role in the treatment of certain patients, these remain palliative procedures for those who are not candidates for resection or ablation, as complete seizure freedom rates are low. Further development and investigation of both established and novel strategies for the surgical treatment of TLE will be critical moving forward, given the significant burden of this disease.
Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) is a central integrator in the brain of endocrine and behavioral stress responses, whereas activation of the endocannabinoid CB1 receptor suppresses these responses. Although these systems regulate overlapping functions, few studies have investigated whether these systems interact. Here we demonstrate a novel mechanism of CRH-induced anxiety that relies on modulation of endocannabinoids. Specifically, we found that CRH, through activation of the CRH receptor type 1 (CRHR1), evokes a rapid induction of the enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), which causes a reduction in the endocannabinoid anandamide (AEA), within the amygdala. Similarly, the ability of acute stress to modulate amygdala FAAH and AEA in both rats and mice is also mediated through CRHR1 activation. This interaction occurs specifically in amygdala pyramidal neurons and represents a novel mechanism of endocannabinoid-CRH interactions in regulating amygdala output. Functionally, we found that CRH signaling in the amygdala promotes an anxious phenotype that is prevented by FAAH inhibition. Together, this work suggests that rapid reductions in amygdala AEA signaling following stress may prime the amygdala and facilitate the generation of downstream stress-linked behaviors. Given that endocannabinoid signaling is thought to exert "tonic" regulation on stress and anxiety responses, these data suggest that CRH signaling coordinates a disruption of tonic AEA activity to promote a state of anxiety, which in turn may represent an endogenous mechanism by which stress enhances anxiety. These data suggest that FAAH inhibitors may represent a novel class of anxiolytics that specifically target stress-induced anxiety.
Copyright © 2015 the authors 0270-6474/15/353879-14$15.00/0.
The central amygdala is a critical brain region for many aspects of alcohol dependence. Much of the work examining the mechanisms by which the central amygdala mediates the development of alcohol dependence has focused on the interaction of acute and chronic ethanol with central amygdala corticotropin releasing factor signaling. This work has led to a great deal of success in furthering the general understanding of central amygdala neurocircuitry and its role in alcohol dependence. Much of this work has primarily focused on the hypothesis that ethanol utilizes endogenous corticotropin releasing factor signaling to upregulate inhibitory GABAergic transmission in the central amygdala. Work that is more recent suggests that corticotropin releasing factor also plays an important role in mediating anxiety-like behaviors via the enhancement of central amygdala glutamatergic transmission, implying that ethanol/corticotropin releasing factor interactions may modulate excitatory neurotransmission in this brain region. In addition, a number of studies utilizing optogenetic strategies or transgenic mouse lines have begun to examine specific central amygdala neurocircuit dynamics and neuronal subpopulations to better understand overall central amygdala neurocircuitry and the role of neuronal subtypes in mediating anxiety-like behaviors. This review will provide a brief update on this literature and describe some potential future directions that may be important for the development of better treatments for alcohol addiction.
Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.