Partial Ablation of Postsynaptic Dopamine D2 Receptors in the Central Nucleus of the Amygdala Increases Risk Avoidance in Exploratory Tasks

Eric Casey, María Elena Avale, Alexxai Kravitz, Marcelo Rubinstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA) is involved in the expression of fear and has been implicated in several anxiety disorders. This structure is densely innervated by DAergic projections that impinge on amygdalar neurons expressing various dopamine (DA) receptor subtypes, including D2 receptors (D2Rs). Although various pharmacological approaches have assessed the role of D2Rs in the CeA, the actual participation of postsynaptic D2Rs in the CeA to defensive behaviors remains unclear. Here, we investigated the distribution of D2Rs in the CeA and their role in modifying neuronal activity and fear related behaviors in mice. First, using the mouse reporter strain D2R-EGFP, we verified that D2Rs are present both in neurons of the CeA and in A10 dorsocaudal (A10dc) DAergic neurons that innervate the CeA. Moreover, we showed that pharmacological stimulation of D2Rs increases the activity of protein kinase C (PKC)δ cells present in the CeA, a type of neuron previously associated with reduced defensive behaviors. Finally, using a molecular genetics approach that discriminates postsynaptic D2Rs from presynaptic D2 autoreceptors, we demonstrated that mice carrying targeted deletions of postsynaptic D2Rs in the CeA display increased risk avoidance in exploratory tasks. Together, our results indicate that postsynaptic D2Rs in the CeA attenuate behavioral reactions to potential environmental threats.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberENEURO.0528-21.2022
JournaleNeuro
Volume9
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2022

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