Stress-induced enhancement of mouse amygdalar synaptic plasticity depends on glucocorticoid and ss-adrenergic activity

Publication Type:

Journal Article


PLoS One, Volume 7, Number 8, p.e42143 (2012)


1932-6203 (Electronic)19

DOI Name (links to online publication)



BACKGROUND: Glucocorticoid hormones, in interaction with noradrenaline, enable the consolidation of emotionally arousing and stressful experiences in rodents and humans. Such interaction is thought to occur at least partly in the basolateral nucleus of the amygdala (BLA) which is crucially involved in emotional memory formation. Extensive evidence points to long-term synaptic potentiation (LTP) as a mechanism contributing to memory formation. Here we determined in adolescent C57/Bl6 mice the effects of stress on LTP in the LA-BLA pathway and the specific roles of corticosteroid and beta-adrenergic receptor activation in this process. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Exposure to 20 min of restraint stress (compared to control treatment) prior to slice preparation enhanced subsequent LTP induction in vitro, without affecting baseline fEPSP responses. The role of glucocorticoid receptors, mineralocorticoid receptors and beta2-adrenoceptors in the effects of stress was studied by treating mice with the antagonists mifepristone, spironolactone or propranolol respectively (or the corresponding vehicles) prior to stress or control treatment. In undisturbed controls, mifepristone and propranolol administration in vivo did not influence LTP induced in vitro. By contrast, spironolactone caused a gradually attenuating form of LTP, both in unstressed and stressed mice. Mifepristone treatment prior to stress strongly reduced the ability to induce LTP in vitro. Propranolol normalized the stress-induced enhancement of LTP to control levels during the first 10 min after high frequency stimulation, after which synaptic responses further declined. CONCLUSIONS: Acute stress changes BLA electrical properties such that subsequent LTP induction is facilitated. Both beta-adrenergic and glucocorticoid receptors are involved in the development of these changes. Mineralocorticoid receptors are important for the maintenance of LTP in the BLA, irrespective of stress-induced changes in the circuit. The prolonged changes in BLA network function after stress may contribute to effective memory formation of emotional and stressful events.