Modulation of cannabinoid signaling by amygdala α2-adrenergic system in fear conditioning

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The noradrenergic system plays a critical role in the modulation of emotional state, primarily related to anxiety, arousal, and stress. Growing evidence suggests that the endocannabinoid system mediates stress responses and emotional homeostasis, in part, by targeting noradrenergic circuits. In addition, there is an interaction between the cannabinoid and noradrenergic system that has significant functional and behavioral implications. Considering the importance of these systems in forming memories for fearful events, we have investigated the involvement of basolateral amygdala (BLA) α2-adrenoceptors on ACPA (as selective cannabinoid CB1 agonist)-induced inhibition of the acquisition of contextual and auditory conditioned fear. A contextual and auditory fear conditioning apparatus for assess fear memory in adult male NMRI mice was used. Pre-training, intraperitoneal administration of ACPA decreased the percentage freezing time in contextual (at doses of 0.05 and 0.1 mg/kg) and auditory (at dose of 0.1 mg/kg) in the fear conditioning task, indicating memory acquisition deficit. The same result was observed with intra-BLA microinjection of clonidine (0.001–0.5 μg/mouse, for both memories), as α2-adrenoceptor agonist and yohimbine (at doses of 0.005 and 0.05 for contextual and at dose of 0.05 μg/mouse for auditory fear memory), as α2-adrenoceptor antagonist. In addition, intra-BLA microinjection of clonidine (0.0005 μg/mouse) did not alter ACPA response in both conditions, while the same dose of yohimbine potentiated ACPA response at the lower dose on contextual fear memory. It is concluded that BLA α2-adrenergic receptors may be involved in context- but not tone-dependent fear memory impairment induced by activation of CB1 receptors.

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