Anxiogenic-like effects induced by NMDA receptor activation are prevented by inhibition of neuronal nitric oxide synthase in the periaqueductal gray in mice
MetadataShow full item record
Glutamate-NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptor activation within the periaqueductal gray (PAG) leads to antinociceptive, autonomic and behavioral responses characterized as the fear reaction. We have recently demonstrated that the vigorous defensive-like behaviors (e.g. jumping and running) and antinociception induced by intra-PAG injection of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) were completely blocked by prior infusion of N(omega)-propyl-L-arginine (NPLA), a specific neuronal nitric oxide synthesis (nNOS) enzyme inhibitor, into the same midbrain structure. It remains unclear however, whether the inhibition of nNOS within the mouse PAG changes the anxiety-like behavior per se or the effects of the inhibition of nNOS depend on the suppression of downstream of glutamate-NMDA receptor activation. This study investigated whether intra-PAG infusion of NPLA (i) attenuates anxiety in the elevated plus-maze (EPM) and (ii) antagonizes the anxiogenic-like effects induced by intra-PAG injection of NMDA. Test sessions were videotaped and subsequently scored for conventional indices of anxiety (percentage of open arm entries and percentage of open arm time) and locomotor activity (closed arm entries). Results showed that intra-PAG infusions of NPLA (0.2, 0.4 or 0.8 nmol/0.1 mu l) did not alter significantly any behavioral response in the EPM when compared to control group (Experiment 1). Intra-PAG infusion of NMDA (0 and 0.02 nmol/0.1 mu l; a dose that does not provoke vigorous defensive behaviors per se in mice) significantly reduced open arm exploration, confirming an anxiogenic-like effect (Experiment 2). When injected into the PAG 10 min prior local NMDA injection (0.02 nmol/0.1 mu l), NPLA (0.4 nmol/0.1 mu l) was able to revert the anxiogenic-like effect of glutamate-NMDA receptor activation. Neither intra-PAG infusion of NMDA nor NPLA altered closed arm entries, a widely used measure of locomotor activity in the EPM. These results suggest that intra-PAG nitric oxide synthesis does not play a role on anxiety-like behavior elicited during EPM exposure; however its synthesis is important for the proaversive effects produced by activation of glutamate-NMDA receptors located within this limbic midbrain structure. (C) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.