Intrinsic connections in the anterior part of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis

J Neurophysiol. 2013 May;109(10):2438-50. doi: 10.1152/jn.00004.2013. Epub 2013 Feb 27.


Intrinsic connections in the anterior portion of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST-A) were studied using patch recordings and ultraviolet (UV) glutamate uncaging (GU) in vitro. UV light was delivered at small BNST-A sites in a grid-like pattern while evoked responses were monitored in different BNST-A regions. Three sectors were distinguished in the BNST-A using fiber bundles readily identifiable in transilluminated slices: the anterior commissure, dividing the BNST-A into dorsal and ventral (BNST-AV) regions, and the intra-BNST component of the stria terminalis, subdividing the dorsal portion into medial (BNST-AM) and lateral (BNST-AL) regions. Overall, GU elicited GABAergic inhibitory postsynaptic potentials (IPSPs) more frequently than excitatory postsynaptic potentials. The incidence of intraregional connections was higher than interregional links. With respect to the latter, asymmetric connections were seen between different parts of the BNST-A. Indeed, while reciprocal connections were found between the BNST-AL and BNST-AM, BNST-AL to BNST-AM connections were more frequent than in the opposite direction. Similarly, while GU in the BNST-AM or BNST-AL often elicited IPSPs in BNST-AV cells, the opposite was rarely seen. Within the BNST-AM, connections were polarized, with dorsal GU sites eliciting IPSPs in more ventrally located cells more frequently than the opposite. This trend was not seen in other regions of the BNST. Consistent with this, most BNST-AM cells had dorsally directed dendrites and ventrally ramified axons, whereas this morphological polarization was not seen in other parts of the BNST-A. Overall, our results reveal a hitherto unsuspected level of asymmetry in the connections within and between different BNST-A regions, implying a degree of interdependence in their activity.

Keywords: anxiety; bed nucleus of the stria terminalis; fear; glutamate uncaging.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology
  • Axons / ultrastructure
  • Dendrites / physiology
  • Dendrites / ultrastructure
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials
  • GABAergic Neurons / cytology
  • GABAergic Neurons / physiology
  • Glutamates / pharmacology
  • Inhibitory Postsynaptic Potentials
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Lew
  • Septal Nuclei / cytology
  • Septal Nuclei / physiology*
  • Synapses / drug effects
  • Synapses / physiology*


  • Glutamates
  • alpha-(4,5-dimethoxy-2-nitrobenzyl) glutamate