GABA and NMDA receptors in CRF neurons have opposing effects in fear acquisition and anxiety in central amygdala vs. bed nucleus of the stria terminalis

Horm Behav. 2015 Nov;76:136-42. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2015.04.001. Epub 2015 Apr 14.


This article is part of a Special Issue "SBN 2014". Beginning with Vale and Colleagues in 1981, corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) also called corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH) has repeatedly been identified as an important contributor to fear and anxiety behavior. These findings have proven useful to further our understanding of disorders that have significant fear-dysregulation, such as post-traumatic stress, as well as other stress- and anxiety-related disorders. Unfortunately, the data are not all in agreement. In particular the role of CRF in fear learning is controversial, with studies pointing to contradictory effects from CRF manipulation even within the same brain structure. Further, very few studies address the potentially promising role of CRF manipulation in fear extinction behavior. Here, we briefly review the role of CRF in anxiety, fear learning and extinction, focusing on recent cell-type and neurotransmitter-specific studies in the amygdala and bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) that may help to synthesize the available data on the role of CRF in fear and anxiety-related behaviors.

Keywords: Amygdala; Anxiety; BNST; CRF; Extinction; Fear; GABA; NMDA; PTSD; r121919.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anxiety / metabolism*
  • Central Amygdaloid Nucleus / metabolism*
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone / metabolism*
  • Fear / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Receptors, GABA / metabolism*
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / metabolism*
  • Septal Nuclei / metabolism*


  • Receptors, GABA
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone