Single stimulation of Y2 receptors in BNSTav facilitates extinction and dampens reinstatement of fear
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Return of fear by re-exposure to an aversive event is a major obstacle in the treatment of fear-related disorders. Recently, we demonstrated that local pharmacological stimulation of neuropeptide Y type 2 receptors (Y2R) in anteroventral bed nucleus of stria terminalis (BNSTav) facilitates fear extinction and attenuates retrieval of remote fear with or without concomitant extinction training. Whether Y2R activation could also protect against re-exposure to traumatic events is still unknown.
Therefore, we investigated reinstatement of remote fear following early Y2R manipulation in BNSTav in relation to concomitant extinction training in mice.
We combined local pharmacological manipulation of Y2Rs in BNSTav with or without extinction training and tested for reinstatement of remote fear 15 days later. Furthermore, we employed immediate early gene mapping to monitor related local brain activation.
Y2R stimulation by local injection of NPY3–36 into BNSTav facilitated extinction, reduced fear reinstatement at remote stages, and mimicked the influence of extinction in groups without prior extinction training. In contrast, Y2R antagonism (JNJ-5207787) delayed extinction and increased reinstatement. Y2R treatment immediately before remote fear tests had no effect. Concomitantly, Y2R activation at early time points reduced the number of c-Fos positive neurons in BNSTav during testing of reinstated remote fear.
Local Y2R stimulation in BNSTav promotes fear extinction and stabilizes suppression of reinstated fear through a long-term influence, even without extinction training. Thus, Y2Rs in BNST are crucial pharmacological targets for extinction-based remote fear suppression.
KeywordsNeuropeptide Y Y2 receptor Fear extinction Remote fear memory Reinstatement
We thank S. Kiesling, J. Schröer, M. Becker, P. Berenbrock, and H. Bäumer for excellent technical assistance and animal care. We also thank the Austrian Science Fund (FWF P 25851 to RT).
This work was funded by the Interdisziplinäres Zentrum für Klinische Forschung (IZKF) Münster (PaHC3/001/15, to HCP) and the Sonderforschungsbereich SFB-TRR58 (A03, to HCP).
Compliance with ethical standards
All experiments were carried out in accordance with the European Committees Council Directive (86/609/EEC) and were approved by the local authority LANUV NRW (Landesamt für Natur, Umwelt und Verbraucherschutz Nordrhein-Westfalen; reference number: 84-02.04.2014.A414).
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.
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