Dopamine D3-like receptors modulate anxiety-like behavior and regulate GABAergic transmission in the rat lateral/basolateral amygdala

Neuropsychopharmacology. 2011 Apr;36(5):1090-103. doi: 10.1038/npp.2010.246. Epub 2011 Jan 26.


Central among the brain regions that regulate fear/anxiety behaviors is the lateral/basolateral amygdala (BLA). BLA output is tightly controlled by the relative activity of two populations of inhibitory GABAergic interneurons, local feedback cells distributed throughout the nucleus, and feedforward cells found along the lateral paracapsular border of this subdivision. Recent studies suggest that dopamine (DA) can modulate the BLA GABAergic system, thus linking fear/anxiety states with mesolimbic reward/attentional processes. However, the precise dopaminergic mechanisms regulating the activity of the two BLA GABAergic neuron populations have not been fully explored. We therefore examined the effects of DA D3-like receptors on BLA-dependent anxiety-like behavior and neurophysiology. After confirming the presence of D3-like receptors within the BLA, we found that microinjection of a D3-selective antagonist into the BLA decreased anxiety-like behavior expressed in both the light/dark transition test and the elevated plus maze. Consistent with this, we found that in vitro D3-like receptor activation selectively inhibits synaptic transmission at both BLA feedback and feedforward GABAergic interneuron populations, with no effect on glutamatergic transmission. This inhibition of GABAergic transmission is a result of a D3-like receptor-mediated, dynamin-dependent process that presumably reflects endocytosis of postsynaptic GABA(A) receptors found on principal BLA neurons. Because environmental cues alter both DA release and relative activity states of the BLA, our data strongly suggest that DA, potentially acting through D3-like receptors, may suppress the relative contribution by inhibitory processes in the BLA and modify the expression of BLA-related behaviors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / drug effects
  • Amygdala / pathology
  • Amygdala / physiopathology*
  • Animals
  • Anxiety / pathology*
  • Anxiety / physiopathology
  • Benzopyrans / pharmacology
  • Biphenyl Compounds / pharmacology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dopamine Agonists / pharmacology
  • Dopamine Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Interactions
  • Electric Stimulation / methods
  • Exploratory Behavior / drug effects
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Indans / pharmacology
  • Inhibitory Postsynaptic Potentials / drug effects
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / drug effects
  • Microinjections / methods
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Oxazines / pharmacology
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Piperazines / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, Dopamine D3 / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission / drug effects
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / metabolism*


  • Benzopyrans
  • Biphenyl Compounds
  • Dopamine Agonists
  • Dopamine Antagonists
  • Indans
  • Oxazines
  • Piperazines
  • Receptors, Dopamine D3
  • GR 103691
  • 3,4,4a,10b-tetrahydro-4-propyl-2H,5H-(1)benzopyrano(4,3-b)-1,4-oxazin-9-ol
  • (5,6-dimethoxyindan-2-yl)dipropylamine
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid