Ventral Hippocampal Input to Infralimbic Cortex Is Necessary for the Therapeutic-Like Effects of Extinction in Stressed Rats

Denisse Paredes, David A. Morilak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Posttraumatic stress disorder is characterized by deficits in cognitive flexibility related to dysfunction of the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). Exposure therapy can effectively reverse these deficits. Fear extinction in rodents bears similarity to exposure therapy. Extinction reverses chronic stress-induced deficits in cognitive flexibility on the attentional set-shifting test (AST), an mPFC-mediated process. This therapeutic effect requires activity of pyramidal neurons and brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) signaling in infralimbic cortex (IL). However, the circuit mechanisms governing BDNF-mediated plasticity initiated by extinction in IL are unknown. The ventral hippocampus (vHipp) plays a role in regulating IL activity during extinction, and plasticity in vHipp is necessary for extinction memory consolidation. Therefore, we investigated the role of vHipp input to IL in the effects of extinction in reversing stress-induced cognitive deficits. Methods: vHipp input to IL was silenced using a Gi-Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs (DREADD) via local infusion of clozapine-N-oxide (CNO) into IL before extinction. A day later, rats were tested on AST. In a separate experiment, we tested whether vHipp input to the IL induces BDNF signaling to exert therapeutic effects. We activated the vHipp using a Gq-DREADD, and injected an anti-BDNF neutralizing antibody into IL. Rats were tested on the AST 24 hours later. Results: Silencing the vHipp input to IL prevented the beneficial effects of extinction in reversing stress-induced cognitive deficits. Activating vHipp input to IL in the absence of extinction was sufficient to reverse stress-induced deficits in set-shifting. The beneficial effects were blocked by local infusion of a neutralizing anti-BDNF antibody into IL. Conclusions: vHipp-driven BDNF signaling in IL is critical for extinction to counteract the deleterious cognitive effects of chronic stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)529-536
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology
Volume26
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2023
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Chronic stress
  • fear extinction
  • infralimbic cortex
  • ventral hippocampus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine

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