The effects of repeated intra-amygdala CRF injections on rat behavior and HPA axis function after stress
Patients diagnosed with certain anxiety disorders or depression show symptoms of a dysregulated HPA-axis secondary to increased release of corticotropin releasing factor (CRF). Male Wistar rats were injected with CRF (100 ng/μL) in the basolateral amygdala (BLA) for 5 days. Measurement of behavior was performed on the elevated plus maze and open field test. Behavioral and neuroendocrine response to restraint stress was also evaluated. Chronic treatment of CRF resulted in a significant increase in grooming after restraint stress in the Open Field test. Basal plasma corticosterone concentrations were significantly lower in the CRF-injected rats. These animals also showed greater and longer increase in corticosterone levels following the restraint stress than controls, but had comparable ACTH responses to restraint stress. Our results indicate that chronic administration of CRF into the basolateral amygdala may promote stress-induced grooming behavior in rats. In addition the data suggests that increased CRF in the amygdala may contribute to the dysregulation of corticosterone secretion. These findings may have important implications for patients suffering from psychiatric illnesses such as posttraumatic stress disorder and depression that are characterized by abnormalities in cortisol release.