Serotonin mediates the panicolytic-like effect of oxytocin in the dorsal periaqueductal gray.J Psychopharmacol. 2020 04; 34(4):383-390.JP
INTRODUCTION AND OBJECTIVES
Oxytocin (OT) has been widely linked to positive social interactions, and there is great interest in OT as a therapy for a variety of neuropsychiatric conditions. Recent evidence also suggests that OT can play an important role in the mediation of anxiety-associated defensive responses, including a role for serotonin (5-HT) neurotransmission in this action. However, it is presently unknown whether OT additionally regulates the expression of panic-related behaviors, such as escape, by acting in the dorsal periaqueductal gray (dPAG), a key panic-regulating area. This study aimed to investigate the consequence of OT injection in the dPAG on escape expression and whether facilitation of 5-HT neurotransmission in this midbrain area is implicated in this action.
Male Wistar rats were injected with OT in the dPAG and tested for escape expression in the elevated T-maze (ETM) and dPAG electrical stimulation tests. Using the latter test, OT's effect was also investigated after previous intra-dPAG injection of the OT receptor antagonist atosiban, the preferential antagonists of 5-HT1A and 5-HT2A receptors, WAY-100635 and ketanserin, respectively, or systemic pretreatment with the 5-HT synthesis inhibitor p-CPA.
OT impaired escape expression in the two tests used, suggesting a panicolytic-like effect. In the ETM, the peptide also facilitated inhibitory avoidance acquisition, indicating an anxiogenic effect. Previous administration of atosiban, WAY-100635, ketanserin, or p-CPA counteracted OT's anti-escape effect.
OT and 5-HT in the dPAG interact in the regulation of panic- and anxiety-related defensive responses. These findings open new perspectives for the development of novel therapeutic strategies for the treatment of anxiety disorders.