Intrinsic neuronal plasticity in the juxtacapsular nucleus of the bed nuclei of the stria terminalis (jcBNST)

Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2009 Nov 13;33(8):1347-55. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2009.08.003. Epub 2009 Aug 12.


The juxtacapsular nucleus of the anterior division of the BNST (jcBNST) receives robust glutamatergic projections from the basolateral nucleus of the amygdala (BLA), the postpiriform transition area, and the insular cortex as well as dopamine (DA) inputs from the midbrain. In turn the jcBNST sends GABAergic projections to the medial division of the central nucleus of the amygdala (CEAm) as well as other brain regions. We recently described a form of long-term potentiation of the intrinsic excitability (LTP-IE) of neurons of the juxtacapsular nucleus of BNST (jcBNST) in response to high-frequency stimulation (HFS) of the stria terminalis that was impaired during protracted withdrawal from alcohol, cocaine, and heroin and in rats chronically treated with corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) intracerebroventricularly. Here we show that DAergic neurotransmission is required for the induction of LTP-IE of jcBNST neurons through dopamine (DA) D1 receptors. Thus, activation of the central CRF stress system and altered DAergic neurotransmission during protracted withdrawal from alcohol and drugs of abuse may contribute to the disruption of LTP-IE in the jcBNST. Impairment of this form of intrinsic neuronal plasticity in the jcBNST could result in inadequate neuronal integration and reduced inhibition of the CEA, contributing to the negative affective state that characterizes protracted abstinence in post-dependent individuals. These results provide a novel neurobiological target for vulnerability to alcohol and drug dependence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biophysics
  • Dopamine Agents / pharmacology
  • Electric Stimulation / methods
  • Long-Term Potentiation / drug effects
  • Long-Term Potentiation / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways / cytology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Dopamine / physiology
  • Reward
  • Septal Nuclei / cytology*
  • Stress, Psychological / pathology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / pathology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / physiopathology


  • Dopamine Agents
  • Receptors, Dopamine