5-HT2C receptor regulation of defensive responses in the rat dorsal periaqueductal gray.Neuropharmacology 2011 Feb-Mar; 60(2-3):216-22N
Activation of 5-HT2C receptors in limbic structures such as the amygdala and hippocampus increases anxiety. Indirect evidence obtained with non-selective 5-HT2C-interacting drugs suggests that the same may occur in the dPAG, a brainstem region consistently implicated in the genesis/regulation of panic attacks. In this study we used more selective agonists and antagonists to unveil the role played by dPAG 5-HT2C receptors in the regulation of anxiety- and panic-related defensive behaviors. Our results showed that intra-dPAG microinjection of the endogenous agonist 5-HT (20 nmol) or the 5-HT2C receptor agonists MK-212 (1 and 10 nmol) and RO-600175 (40 nmol) significantly increased inhibitory avoidance acquisition in rats tested in the elevated T-maze, suggesting an anxiogenic effect. 5-HT, but not the two 5-HT2C receptor agonists, inhibited escape performance. In the elevated T-maze, inhibitory avoidance and escape responses have been related to generalized anxiety and panic attacks, respectively. The behavioral effects caused by 5-HT and MK-212 were fully blocked by previous local microinjection of the 5-HT2C receptor antagonist SB-242084. Intra-dPAG injection of MK-212 also failed to affect escape expression in another test relating this behavior to panic, the electrical stimulation of the dPAG. Overall, the results indicate that 5-HT2C receptors in the dPAG are preferentially involved in the regulation of defensive behaviors related to anxiety, but not panic. This finding extends to the dPAG the prominent role that has been attributed to 5-HT2C receptors in anxiety generation.