Indexed on: 26 May '17Published on: 26 May '17Published in: Psychiatry investigation
The hallmark of anxiety disorders is excessive fear. Previous studies have suggested that selective neural projections from Basal nucleus of stria terminalis (BNST) to amygdala and vice-versa precisely control the fear learning process. However the exact mechanism how the BNST controls fear consolidation and its extinction is largely unknown. In the present study we observed the changes in the BNST sub-regions following fear conditioning and its extinction.The change in the number of positive neurons was determined by immunohistochemistry for Acetyl H3 (Histone 3), Acetyl H4 (Histone 4), cAMP response element binding Protein (CBP) and c-fos in three sub-regions of the BNST namely the anterio-lateral BNST (STLP) and anterio-medial BNST (STMA), and lateral-ventral BNST (STLV) of rats subjected to auditory fear conditioning and extinction.We found significant increase in the number of CBP, acetyl H3 and acetyl H4 positive neurons in the STMA and STLV but not in the STLP after fear conditioning. However, following fear extinction the number of CBP, acetyl H3 and acetyl H4 positive neurons increased significantly in the STLP but not in the STMA and STLV. Similar changes were observed in the number of c-fos positive neurons after fear consolidation and extinction.The results from this study suggest that the differential histone acetylation in the different sub-regions of the BNST following fear learning and its extinction may be responsible for changes in the neuronal activation patterns resulting in either fear or less fear.