Rationale: Corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) produces anxiety-like and aversive effects when infused directly into the various regions of the brain, including the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST). However, the CRF receptor subtypes within the BNST mediating these phenomena have not been established.
Objectives: We used selective CRF receptor antagonists to determine the receptor subtypes involved in the anxiogenic-like and aversive effects CRF in the BNST.
Materials and methods: Male Long-Evans rats were bilaterally infused with CRF (0.2 or 1.0 nmol) either alone or in combination with the CRF1 receptor antagonist CP154,526 or the CRF2 receptor antagonist anti-sauvagine 30 (AS30) before behavioral testing in the elevated plus maze or place conditioning paradigms.
Results: Intra-BNST administration of CRF produced a dose-dependent reduction in open arm entries and open arm time in the elevated plus maze, indicating an anxiogenic-like effect. These effects were inhibited by co-infusion of CP154,526 but not of AS30, indicating that the anxiogenic-like effects of CRF in the BNST are mediated by CRF1 receptors. Place conditioning with intra-BNST administration of CRF produced a dose-dependent aversion to the CRF-paired environment that was prevented by co-infusion of either CP154,526 or AS30, indicating that both CRF receptor subtypes mediate the aversive effects of this peptide. Intra-BNST infusions of the CRF receptor antagonists alone produced no effects in either behavioral paradigm.
Conclusions: CRF1 receptors in the BNST mediate the anxiogenic-like effects of CRF in this region, whereas both CRF1 and CRF2 receptor subtypes mediate the conditioned aversive effects of this peptide within the BNST.