Numerous rodent and human studies have demonstrated that neuropeptide Y (NPY) is involved in the regulation of anxiety-related behaviors. In this study, we examined whether there were differences in NPY signaling between two inbred mouse strains (C57BL/6J and DBA/2J) that exhibit divergent basal and stress-induced anxiety phenotypes. We focused on the bed nucleus of the stria terminals (BNST), a structure in the extended amygdala that is important for the regulation of anxiety-like behavior and contains NPY receptors. While results from whole-cell voltage-clamp recordings and immunofluorescence histochemistry revealed no significant basal differences in NPY signaling or NPY and NPY Y2 receptor (Y2R) expression in the BNST, these measures were differentially altered by chronic restraint stress. Ten days of chronic restraint stress increased basal GABAergic transmission and decreased NPY's ability to inhibit evoked GABAergic transmission in the dorsolateral BNST (dlBNST) via Y2R in DBA/2J, but not C57BL/6J, mice. Additionally, restraint stress increased NPY and Y2R expression across subregions of the BNST of DBA/2J mice 24 h after the last stress exposure, but no changes were observed in C57BL/6J mice. Together, these results suggest that chronic restraint stress engages the NPY system and alters NPY modulation of inhibitory transmission in the dlBNST of DBA/2J mice, but not C57BL/6J mice, which may be related to increased expression of anxiety-related behaviors in this strain.
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