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Functional coupling between the amygdala and the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC) has been implicated in the generation of negative affective states; however, the mechanisms by which stress increases amygdala-dmPFC synaptic strength and generates anxiety-like behaviors are not well understood. Here, we show that the mouse basolateral amygdala (BLA)-prelimbic prefrontal cortex (plPFC) circuit is engaged by stress and activation of this pathway in anxiogenic. Furthermore, we demonstrate that acute stress exposure leads to a lasting increase in synaptic strength within a reciprocal BLA-plPFC-BLA subcircuit. Importantly, we identify 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG)-mediated endocannabinoid signaling as a key mechanism limiting glutamate release at BLA-plPFC synapses and the functional collapse of multimodal 2-AG signaling as a molecular mechanism leading to persistent circuit-specific synaptic strengthening and anxiety-like behaviors after stress exposure. These data suggest that circuit-specific impairment in 2-AG signaling could facilitate functional coupling between the BLA and plPFC and the translation of environmental stress to affective pathology.
Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
KEY POINTS - •Nucleotide binding oligomerization domain (Nod)-like receptors regulate cognition, anxiety and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activation. •Nod-like receptors regulate central and peripheral serotonergic biology. •Nod-like receptors are important for maintenance of gastrointestinal physiology. •Intestinal epithelial cell expression of Nod1 receptors regulate behaviour.
ABSTRACT - Gut-brain axis signalling is critical for maintaining health and homeostasis. Stressful life events can impact gut-brain signalling, leading to altered mood, cognition and intestinal dysfunction. In the present study, we identified nucleotide binding oligomerization domain (Nod)-like receptors (NLR), Nod1 and Nod2, as novel regulators for gut-brain signalling. NLR are innate immune pattern recognition receptors expressed in the gut and brain, and are important in the regulation of gastrointestinal physiology. We found that mice deficient in both Nod1 and Nod2 (NodDKO) demonstrate signs of stress-induced anxiety, cognitive impairment and depression in the context of a hyperactive hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. These deficits were coupled with impairments in the serotonergic pathway in the brain, decreased hippocampal cell proliferation and immature neurons, as well as reduced neural activation. In addition, NodDKO mice had increased gastrointestinal permeability and altered serotonin signalling in the gut following exposure to acute stress. Administration of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, fluoxetine, abrogated behavioural impairments and restored serotonin signalling. We also identified that intestinal epithelial cell-specific deletion of Nod1 (VilCre Nod1 ), but not Nod2, increased susceptibility to stress-induced anxiety-like behaviour and cognitive impairment following exposure to stress. Together, these data suggest that intestinal epithelial NLR are novel modulators of gut-brain communication and may serve as potential novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of gut-brain disorders.
© 2019 The Authors. The Journal of Physiology © 2019 The Physiological Society.
Rapid and accurate detection of threat is adaptive. Yet, threat-related attentional biases, including hypervigilance, avoidance, and attentional disengagement delays, may contribute to the etiology and maintenance of anxiety disorders. Behavioral measures of attentional bias generally indicate that threat demands more attentional resources; however, indices exploring differential allocation of attention using reaction time fail to clarify the time course by which attention is deployed under threatening circumstances in healthy and anxious populations. In this review, we conduct an interpretive synthesis of 28 attentional bias studies focusing on event-related potentials (ERPs) as a primary outcome to inform an ERP model of the neural chronometry of attentional bias in healthy and anxious populations. The model posits that both healthy and anxious populations display modulations of early ERP components, including the P1, N170, P2, and N2pc, in response to threatening and emotional stimuli, suggesting that both typical and abnormal patterns of attentional bias are characterized by enhanced allocation of attention to threat and emotion at earlier stages of processing. Compared to anxious populations, healthy populations more clearly demonstrate modulations of later components, such as the P3, indexing conscious and evaluative processing of threat and emotion and disengagement difficulties at later stages of processing. Findings from the interpretive synthesis, existing bias models, and extant neural literature on attentional systems are then integrated to inform a conceptual model of the processes and substrates underlying threat appraisal and resource allocation in healthy and anxious populations. To conclude, we discuss therapeutic interventions for attentional bias and future directions.
Copyright © 2019 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
This letter describes the further optimization of a series of mGlu NAMs based on an N-aryl phenoxyethoxy pyridinone core. A multidimensional optimization campaign, with focused matrix libraries, quickly established challenging SAR, enantiospecific activity, differences in assay read-outs (Ca flux via a promiscuous G protein (G) versus native coupling to GIRK channels), identified both full and partial mGlu NAMs and a new in vivo tool compound, VU6017587. This mGlu NAM showed efficacy in tail suspension, elevated zero maze and marble burying, suggesting selective inhibition of mGlu affords anxiolytic-like and antidepressant-like phenotypes in mice.
Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine; 5-HT) coordinates behavioral responses to stress through a variety of presynaptic and postsynaptic receptors distributed across functionally diverse neuronal networks in the central nervous system. Efferent 5-HT projections from the dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN) to the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) are generally thought to enhance anxiety and aversive learning by activating 5-HT receptor (5-HTR) signaling in the BNST, although an opposing role for postsynaptic 5-HT receptors has recently been suggested. In the present study, we sought to delineate a role for postsynaptic 5-HT receptors in the BNST in aversive behaviors using a conditional knockdown of the 5-HT receptor. Both males and females were tested to dissect out sex-specific effects. We found that male mice have significantly reduced fear memory recall relative to female mice and inactivation of 5-HT receptor in the BNST increases contextual fear conditioning in male mice so that they resemble the females. This coincided with an increase in neuronal excitability in males, suggesting that 5-HT receptor deletion may enhance contextual fear recall by disinhibiting fear memory circuits in the BNST. Interestingly, 5-HT receptor knockdown did not significantly alter anxiety-like behavior in male or female mice, which is in agreement with previous findings that anxiety and fear are modulated by dissociable circuits in the BNST. Overall, these results suggest that BNST 5-HT receptors do not significantly alter behavior under basal conditions, but can act as a molecular brake that buffer against excessive activation of aversive circuits in more threatening contexts.
BACKGROUND - The human brain remains highly plastic for a protracted developmental period. Thus, although early caregiving adversities that alter amygdala development can result in enduring emotion regulation difficulties, these trajectories should respond to subsequent enriched caregiving. Exposure to high-quality parenting can regulate (i.e., decrease) children's amygdala reactivity, a process that, over the long term, is hypothesized to enhance emotion regulation. We tested the hypothesis that even following adversity, the parent-child relationship would be associated with decreases in amygdala reactivity to parent cues, which would in turn predict lower future anxiety.
METHODS - Participants were 102 children (6-10 years of age) and adolescents (11-17 years of age), for whom data were collected at one or two time points and who either had experienced institutional care before adoption (n = 45) or had lived always with their biological parents (comparison; n = 57). We examined how amygdala reactivity to visual cues of the parent at time 1 predicted longitudinal change (from time 1 to time 2) in parent-reported child anxiety across 3 years.
RESULTS - At time 1, on average, amygdala reactivity decrements to parent cues were not seen in children who had received institutional care but were seen in children in the comparison group. However, some children who previously experienced institutional care did show decreased amygdala reactivity to parent cues (∼40%), which was associated with greater child-reported feelings of security with their parent. Amygdala decreases at time 1 were followed by steeper anxiety reductions from time 1 to time 2 (i.e., 3 years).
CONCLUSIONS - These data provide a neurobiological mechanism by which the parent-child relationship can increase resilience, even in children at significant risk for anxiety symptoms.
Copyright © 2019 Society of Biological Psychiatry. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Schizophrenia is conceptualized as a neurodevelopmental disorder and pre-morbid differences in social function and cognition have been well-established. Less is known about pre-morbid temperament and personality. Inhibited temperament-the predisposition to respond to novelty with wariness, fear, or caution-is a premorbid risk factor for anxiety, depression, and substance use but is understudied in schizophrenia. Participants were patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders (n = 166) and healthy controls (n = 180). Patients completed measures of childhood inhibited temperament, clinical symptoms (anxiety, depression, PANSS factors), and quality of life. Patients had significantly higher levels of inhibited temperament relative to healthy controls. In patients with schizophrenia, higher inhibited temperament was significantly associated with co-morbid anxiety disorders, greater anxiety and depression symptoms, higher PANSS Distress scores, lower PANSS Excitement scores, and lower quality of life. The current findings replicate and extend previous research with a larger sample and are consistent with vulnerability in an affective path to psychosis. In schizophrenia, higher inhibited temperament was associated with a cluster of mood and anxiety symptoms. Inhibited temperament was not associated with psychosis symptoms. Patients with high inhibited temperament may especially benefit from treatments that specifically target anxiety and depression.
Copyright © 2019. Published by Elsevier B.V.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE - G protein-gated inwardly rectifying K (K 3) channels moderate the activity of excitable cells and have been implicated in neurological disorders and cardiac arrhythmias. Most neuronal K 3 channels consist of K 3.1 and K 3.2 subtypes, while cardiac K 3 channels consist of K 3.1 and K 3.4 subtypes. Previously, we identified a family of urea-containing K 3 channel activators, but these molecules exhibit suboptimal pharmacokinetic properties and modest selectivity for K 3.1/3.2 relative to K 3.1/3.4 channels. Here, we characterize a non-urea activator, VU0810464, which displays nanomolar potency as a K 3.1/3.2 activator, improved selectivity for neuronal K 3 channels, and improved brain penetration.
EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH - We used whole-cell electrophysiology to measure the efficacy and potency of VU0810464 in neurons and the selectivity of VU0810464 for neuronal and cardiac K 3 channel subtypes. We tested VU0810464 in vivo in stress-induced hyperthermia and elevated plus maze paradigms. Parallel studies with ML297, the prototypical activator of K 3.1-containing K 3 channels, were performed to permit direct comparisons.
KEY RESULTS - VU0810464 and ML297 exhibited comparable efficacy and potency as neuronal K 3 channel activators, but VU0810464 was more selective for neuronal K 3 channels. VU0810464, like ML297, reduced stress-induced hyperthermia in a K 3-dependent manner in mice. ML297, but not VU0810464, decreased anxiety-related behaviour as assessed with the elevated plus maze test.
CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS - VU0810464 represents a new class of K 3 channel activator with enhanced selectivity for K 3.1/3.2 channels. VU0810464 may be useful for examining K 3.1/3.2 channel contributions to complex behaviours and for probing the potential of K 3 channel-dependent manipulations to treat neurological disorders.
© 2019 The British Pharmacological Society.
Gastrointestinal and mental disorders are highly comorbid, and animal models have shown that both can be caused by early adversity (e.g., parental deprivation). Interactions between the brain and bacteria that live within the gastrointestinal system (the microbiome) underlie adversity-gastrointestinal-anxiety interactions, but these links have not been investigated during human development. In this study, we utilized data from a population of 344 youth (3-18 years old) who were raised with their biological parents or were exposed to early adverse caregiving experiences (i.e., institutional or foster care followed by international adoption) to explore adversity-gastrointestinal-anxiety associations. In Study 1, we demonstrated that previous adverse care experiences were associated with increased incidence of gastrointestinal symptoms in youth. Gastrointestinal symptoms were also associated with concurrent and future anxiety (measured across 5 years), and those gastrointestinal symptoms mediated the adversity-anxiety association at Time 1. In a subsample of children who provided both stool samples and functional magnetic resonance imaging of the brain (Study 2, which was a "proof-of-principle"), adversity was associated with changes in diversity (both alpha and beta) of microbial communities, and bacteria levels (adversity-associated and adversity-independent) were correlated with prefrontal cortex activation to emotional faces. Implications of these data for supporting youth mental health are discussed.
OBJECTIVES - Given the neurocognitive hyperarousal observed in patients with insomnia disorder and associations of nocturnal hot flashes with cardiovascular disease risk, we examined whether women with hot flash-associated insomnia disorder demonstrate exaggerated cardiovascular responsivity to acute stressors, and also a profile of psychological hyperarousal.
METHODS - Peri and postmenopausal women with and without hot flash-associated insomnia disorder underwent assessments of cardiovascular autonomic responsivity to acute stress paradigms and psychological hyperarousal. Hemodynamic responses (heart rate, blood pressure) to nociceptive, social-evaluative, and cognitive stress paradigms were measured in the morning. Psychological hyperarousal was evaluated using questionnaires assessing daytime and presleep hyperarousal, anxiety, and sleep-related cognitions.
RESULTS - Women (25 with and 15 without hot flash-associated insomnia) aged 53.4 ± 4.8 years reported a range of insomnia symptoms. Resting-state hemodynamics were similar between groups. Heart rate and blood pressure responses to stress paradigms did not differ by group nor did they correlate with insomnia severity. Women with insomnia disorder had higher generalized anxiety disorder scores (mean 2.7 ± 3.0 vs 1.0 ± 1.4; P = 0.05) and sleep-related cognitions than those without insomnia (P ≤ 0.05). Insomnia symptom severity was moderately correlated with presleep and daytime hyperarousal, anxiety, and sleep-related cognition (all r ≥ 0.43).
CONCLUSIONS - Though hot flash-associated insomnia is characterized by psychological hyperarousal before sleep and during the daytime, it does not relate to cardiovascular responsiveness to acute stressors. Our findings do not support the hypothesis that altered cardiovascular control is a potential mechanism by which hot flash-associated insomnia confers higher cardiovascular disease risk.