Anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric illnesses. Some patients suffering from anxiety disorders also display depressive-like symptoms, leading to greater severity and complexity of anxiety disorders.
Recently, researchers from Shenzhen Institute of Advanced Technology (SIAT) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai have revealed the functional role for VTA→BLA dopamine neurons controlling anxiety-related behaviors not only in singular anxiety, but also in anxiety-depression comorbid conditions in mice.
This study was published in Nature Communications on March 22.
The chronic social defeat stress (CSDS) paradigm can induce singular or combined anxiety- and depressive-like phenotypes in mice. Based on this model, the researchers found that a ventral tegmental area (VTA) dopamine circuit projecting to the basolateral amygdala (BLA) selectively controlled anxiety-like but not depression-like behaviors.
Through circuit-dissecting ex vivo electrophysiology and in vivo fiber photometry approaches, they discovered that expression of anxiety-like not depressive-like phenotypes were negatively correlated with VTA→BLA dopamine neuron activity.
Furthermore, bidirectional optogenetic manipulation by using inhibitory NpHR or excitatory ChR2 demonstrated a causal link between such neuronal activity and anxiety-like behaviors.
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