Rationale: Anatomical studies have shown that the paraventricular nucleus of the thalamus (PVT) innervates areas of the forebrain involved in the expression and regulation of emotional behaviors including fear and anxiety. In addition, the PVT is densely innervated by fibers containing orexin-A (OXA) and orexin-B (OXB), peptides that are well-known for their arousal effects on behavior.
Objectives: In this study, we investigate whether microinjections of orexin receptor agonists and antagonists in the PVT region alter expression of anxiety-like behaviors in the rat as measured in the elevated plus maze.
Results: We report that microinjections of OXA and OXB in the PVT region elicited anxiety-like response as indicated by a reduction in open arm time and entries. In addition, OXA and OXB produced changes in ethological measures indicative of an anxiety state. Central administrations of antagonists for corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) or the opioid kappa receptors attenuated the anxiogenic effects produced by microinjections of OXA in the PVT region. We also provide evidence that endogenously released orexins act at the PVT to produce anxiety by showing that microinjections of TCSOX229, an orexin-2 receptor antagonist, in the PVT region attenuated the anxiogenic effects produced by a previous exposure to footshock stress.
Conclusions: This study indicates that endogenously released orexins act on the PVT to regulate anxiety levels through mechanisms involving the brain kappa and CRF receptors.