The dorsal premammillary nucleus (PMd) is a hypothalamic structure that plays a pivotal role in the processing of predatory threats. Lesions of this nucleus virtually eliminate the expression of defensive responses to predator exposure. However, little is known about the neurotransmitters responsible for these behavioral responses. Since PMd neurons express ionotropic glutamate receptors and exposure to predators have been shown to activate nitric oxide (NO) producing cells in this region, the aim of this study was to verify the involvement of glutamate and NO-mediated neurotransmission in defensive reactions modulated by the PMd. We tested in male Wistar rats the hypothesis that intra-PMd injection of the NMDA receptor antagonist, AP7, or the NO synthase inhibitor, N-propyl-L-arginine (NP), would attenuate behavioral responses induced by cat exposure. Our results showed that both AP7 and NP significantly attenuated the behavioral responses induced by the live cat. These results suggest that the NMDA/NO pathway plays an important role in the behavioral responses mediated by the PMd.
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