Given the modulatory effect of exogenously administered corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) and gastrin-releasing peptide (GRP) on conditioned fear, the present study sought to measure the fear-induced endogenous release of CRH and GRP at the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and basolateral amygdala (BLA) using in vivo microdialysis. Rats were divided into 2 training conditions; tone only (cue), or tone paired with shock. The day after conditioning, animals were tested for fear by scoring freezing behavior in response to the tone alone in cages different from the cages they were previously conditioned in. Freezing was scored for 10 min. Dialysates were collected over 20 min intervals from 2h prior to testing (to establish baseline values) through to 3h post-testing continually uninterrupted. Analyses of dialysates revealed that at the BLA, the release of both CRH and GRP was increased over time and that peptide release was significantly higher in animals that had previously received shock relative to rats that had not. Further, the release of CRH and GRP was significantly correlated with freezing levels (an indication of fear in the rat) such that animals that had higher levels of freezing also had higher interstitial peptide levels. These effects appeared site-specific, as they were not apparent at the mPFC. It appears that at the BLA, the release of CRH and GRP is related to fear.
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