The present study examined the effects of stereotaxic delivery of corticosterone to the amygdala on anxiety-like behavior and corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) mRNA level in the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA). Micropellets (30 μg) of crystalline corticosterone or cholesterol (control) were implanted bilaterally at the dorsal margin of the CeA in Wistar rats. Seven days post-implantation, anxiety-like behavior was accessed using an elevated plus-maze. CRF mRNA level in the CeA was determined by in situ hybridization 4 h after being tested on the elevated plus-maze. Corticosterone implants increased indices of anxiety on the elevated plus-maze and produced a concomitant increase in both basal level of CRF mRNA per neuron and the number of neurons with CRF hybridization signal in the CeA. The plus-maze increased CRF mRNA levels in the CeA of cholesterol implanted rats to the elevated basal levels observed in corticosterone treated animals. Exposure to the plus-maze did not increase CRF mRNA level in the CeA of corticosterone implanted rats beyond elevated basal levels. Taken together, these findings support the involvement of the amygdala in anxiety-like behaviors in response to chronically elevated corticosterone and suggests that elevated glucocorticoids may increase anxiety by inducing CRF expression in the CeA. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.
- Corticotropin-releasing factor
- Elevated plus-maze