Study objective: To determine whether corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) in the basolateral amygdala (BLA) modulated sleep and fear-conditioned alterations in sleep.
Design: After 2 days of habituation to recording procedures, baseline sleep recordings were obtained. The animals were then habituated to the handling procedure necessary for microinjections over 2 consecutive days. In experiment 1, rats received microinjections of 0.5 μL antalarmin (1.61 or 4.82 mM), a CRF receptor 1 antagonist, or distilled water once a week for 3 wk. In experiment 2, rats received a microinjection of either antalarmin or vehicle prior to inescapable shock training (ST; 20 shocks; 0.8 mA, 0.5 sec; 1 min interstimulus interval). The animals were placed back in the context 7 days later for 30 min without shock (CR; context re-exposure). Sleep was recorded for 8 h after each manipulation.
Subjects: Outbred Wistar rats.
Interventions: The rats were surgically implanted with electrodes for recording the electroencephalogram and electromyogram for determining arousal state and with bilateral guide cannulae directed at BLA.
Measurements and results: Antalarmin microinjected into BLA did not significantly alter sleep under undisturbed conditions. However, antalarmin microinjected bilaterally into BLA prior to ST blocked reductions in rapid eye movement sleep that ST normally produces. Further, the single microinjection prior to ST blocked the reduction in rapid eye movement typically seen after subsequent CR. Behavioral freezing, an indicator of fear memory, was not altered.
Conclusions: CRF in BLA is involved in regulating stress-induced alterations in sleep and it plays a role in modulating how stressful memories influence sleep.
Keywords: Amygdala; corticotropin-releasing factor; fear conditioning; sleep.