A serotonergic deficit in the dorsal periaqueductal gray matter may underpin enhanced panic-like behavior in diabetic rats

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It is known that diabetic (DBT) animals present dysregulation on the serotonergic system in several brain areas associated with anxiety-like responses. The aim of this study was to investigate the involvement of 5-HT1A receptors on dorsal periaqueductal gray (dPAG) in the behavioral response related to panic disorder in type-1 DBT animals. For this, the escape response by electric stimulation (ES) of dPAG in DBT and normoglycemic (NGL) animals was assessed. Both NGL and DBT animals were exposed to an open-field test (OFT) 28 days after DBT confirmation. The current threshold to induce escape behavior in DBT animals was reduced compared with NGL animals. No impairment in locomotor activity was observed when DBT animals were compared with NGL animals. An intra-dPAG injection of the 5-HT1A receptor agonist (±)-8-hydroxy-2-(di-n-propylamino)tetralin (8-OH-DPAT) increased the [INCREMENT] threshold in both DBT and NGL, suggesting a panicolytic-like effect. DBT animals presented a more pronounced panicolytic-like response compared with NGL as a higher [INCREMENT] threshold was observed after 8-OH-DPAT treatment, which could be a consequence of the increased expression of the 5-HT1A receptor in the dPAG from DBT animals. Our results are in line with the proposal that a deficiency in serotonergic modulation of the dPAG is involved in triggering the panic attack and the 5-HT1A receptors might be essential for the panicolytic-like response.

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