Many aspects of drug abuse and addiction share neurobiological substrates with the modulatory processes underlying the response and adaptation to acute stress. In particular, the ascending noradrenergic system has been implicated in facilitating the response to stress, and in stress-induced reinstatement of drug seeking behavior. Thus, to better understand the link between stress and addictive behaviors, it would be informative to understand better the modulatory function of the ascending noradrenergic system, and its interaction with other neurotransmitters with which it is closely associated or co-localized, such as the neuropeptide galanin. In this paper, we review a series of studies investigating the functional interactions of norepinephrine and galanin in modulating the behavioral response to acute stress in two components of the extended amygdala, the central nucleus of the amygdala and the lateral bed nucleus of the stria terminalis. We showed that norepinephrine facilitates behavioral reactivity to stress on the elevated plus-maze and social interaction tests. However, when stress-induced activation of the noradrenergic system was enhanced by blocking inhibitory adrenergic autoreceptors, galanin release was recruited in the central amygdala, acting to attenuate the behavioral response to stress. By contrast, stress-induced galanin release in the lateral bed nucleus appeared to be independent of enhanced noradrenergic activation, and unlike the central amygdala, both galanin and norepinephrine facilitated behavioral stress reactivity in the bed nucleus. The different modes of interaction and differential region- and response-specificity of galanin and norepinephrine suggest that a complex neural circuit interconnecting these two regions is involved in the modulatory effects of norepinephrine and galanin on the behavioral response to stress. Such complexity may allow for flexibility and plasticity in stress adaptation, and may also contribute to behavioral changes induced by chronic drug administration. Thus, the interaction of galanin and norepinephrine may be a viable target for the future development of novel therapeutic strategies for treating behavioral disorders related to stress or drug abuse.
- Central amygdala
- Lateral bed nucleus
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)