Substance P excites GABAergic neurons in the mouse central amygdala through neurokinin 1 receptor activation

J Neurophysiol. 2015 Oct;114(4):2500-8. doi: 10.1152/jn.00883.2014. Epub 2015 Sep 2.


Substance P (SP) is implicated in stress regulation and affective and anxiety-related behavior. Particularly high expression has been found in the main output region of the amygdala complex, the central amygdala (CE). Here we investigated the cellular mechanisms of SP in CE in vitro, taking advantage of glutamic acid decarboxylase-green fluorescent protein (GAD67-GFP) knockin mice that yield a reliable labeling of GABAergic neurons, which comprise 95% of the neuronal population in the lateral section of CE (CEl). In GFP-positive neurons within CEl, SP caused a membrane depolarization and increase in input resistance, associated with an increase in action potential firing frequency. Under voltage-clamp conditions, the SP-specific membrane current reversed at -101.5 ± 2.8 mV and displayed inwardly rectifying properties indicative of a membrane K(+) conductance. Moreover, SP responses were blocked by the neurokinin type 1 receptor (NK1R) antagonist L-822429 and mimicked by the NK1R agonist [Sar(9),Met(O2)(11)]-SP. Immunofluorescence staining confirmed localization of NK1R in GFP-positive neurons in CEl, predominantly in PKCδ-negative neurons (80%) and in few PKCδ-positive neurons (17%). Differences in SP responses were not observed between the major types of CEl neurons (late firing, regular spiking, low-threshold bursting). In addition, SP increased the frequency and amplitude of GABAergic synaptic events in CEl neurons depending on upstream spike activity. These data indicate a NK1R-mediated increase in excitability and GABAergic activity in CEl neurons, which seems to mostly involve the PKCδ-negative subpopulation. This influence can be assumed to increase reciprocal interactions between CElon and CEloff pathways, thereby boosting the medial CE (CEm) output pathway and contributing to the anxiogenic-like action of SP in the amygdala.

Keywords: PKCδ; central amygdala; neurokinin type 1 receptor; substance P.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Central Amygdaloid Nucleus / drug effects
  • Central Amygdaloid Nucleus / physiology*
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • GABAergic Neurons / drug effects
  • GABAergic Neurons / physiology*
  • Gene Knock-In Techniques
  • Glutamate Decarboxylase / genetics
  • Glutamate Decarboxylase / metabolism
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Male
  • Membrane Potentials / drug effects
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neurokinin-1 Receptor Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Piperidines / pharmacology
  • Potassium / metabolism
  • Protein Kinase C-delta / metabolism
  • Receptors, Neurokinin-1 / metabolism*
  • Substance P / metabolism*
  • Tissue Culture Techniques


  • N-((2-cyclopropoxy-5-(5-trifluomethyl)tetrazol-1-yl)benzyl)-2-phenylpiperidin-3-amine
  • Neurokinin-1 Receptor Antagonists
  • Piperidines
  • Receptors, Neurokinin-1
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Substance P
  • Protein Kinase C-delta
  • Glutamate Decarboxylase
  • glutamate decarboxylase 1
  • Potassium