Chronic Ethanol Differentially Modulates Glutamate Release from Dorsal and Ventral Prefrontal Cortical Inputs onto Rat Basolateral Amygdala Principal Neurons
The medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and the basolateral amygdala (BLA) have strong reciprocal connectivity. Projections from the BLA to the mPFC can bidirectionally modulate anxiety-related behaviors but it is unclear if the same is true for mPFC to BLA projections. Our laboratory is specifically interested in withdrawal-related anxiety-like behavior and the underlying synaptic plasticity. Here, we use optogenetics and chemogenetics to characterize the neurophysiological and behavioral
... ns produced by chronic ethanol exposure and withdrawal on dorsal mPFC/prelimbic (dmPFC/PL) and ventral mPFC (vmPFC/IL) terminals in the BLA. We exposed adult male Sprague-Dawley rats to chronic intermittent ethanol (CIE) using vapor chambers, measured anxiety-like behavior on the elevated zero maze (EZM), and used electrophysiology to record glutamatergic and GABAergic responses in BLA principal neurons. We found that 24-hour withdrawal following a 7-day CIE exposure significantly increased the glutamate release probability from PL/dmPFC terminals, but significantly decreases the glutamate release probability from IL/vmPFC terminals. Chemogenetic inhibition of PL/dmPFC terminals in the BLA attenuated the increased withdrawal-dependent, anxiety-like behavior. These data demonstrate that chronic ethanol exposure and withdrawal strengthens the PL/dmPFC-BLA pathway but weakens the IL/vmPFC-BLA pathway. Moreover, we provide novel evidence that the PL/dmPFC-BLA pathway can modulate anxiety-like behavior. These findings suggest that mPFC-BLA circuits known to regulate the acquisition of aversive behaviors are up-regulated by chronic ethanol while those involved with the extinction of these behaviors are down-regulated.