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Neurofascin Knock Down in the Basolateral Amygdala Mediates Resilience of Memory and Plasticity in the Dorsal Dentate Gyrus Under Stress

Saha, R., Kriebel, M., Volkmer, H., Richter-Levin, G., Albrecht, A. (2018).

Molecular Neurobiology. In press.

Activation of the amygdala is one of the hallmarks of acute stress reactions and a central element of the negative impact of stress on hippocampus-dependent memory and cognition. Stress-induced psychopathologies, such as posttraumatic stress disorder, exhibit a sustained hyperactivity of the amygdala, triggered at least in part by deficits in GABAergic inhibition that lead to shifts in amygdalo-hippocampal interaction. Here, we have utilized lentiviral knock down of neurofascin to reduce GABAergic inhibition specifically at the axon initial segment (AIS) of principal neurons within the basolateral amygdala (BLA) of rats. Metaplastic effects of such a BLA modulation on hippocampal synaptic function were assessed using BLA priming prior to the induction of long-term potentiation (LTP) on dentate gyrus synapses in anesthetized rats in vivo. The knock down of neurofascin in the BLA prevented a priming-induced impairment on LTP maintenance in the dentate gyrus. At the behavioral level, a similar effect was observable, with neurofascin knock down preventing the detrimental impact of acute traumatic stress on hippocampus-dependent spatial memory retrieval in a water maze task. These findings suggest that reducing GABAergic inhibition specifically at the AIS synapses of the BLA alters amygdalo-hippocampal interactions such that it attenuates the adverse impact of acute stress exposure on cognition-related hippocampal functions.