Stress-induced changes in plasma corticosterone and central monoamine levels were examined in mouse strains that differ in fear-related behaviors. Two DxH recombinant inbred mouse strains with a DBA/2J background, which were originally bred for a high (H-FSS) and low fear-sensitized acoustic startle reflex (L-FSS), were used. Levels of noradrenaline, dopamine, and serotonin and their metabolites 3,4-dihydroxyphenyacetic acid (DOPAC), homovanillic acid (HVA), and 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) were studied in the amygdala, hippocampus, medial prefrontal cortex, striatum, hypothalamus and brainstem. H-FSS mice exhibited increased fear levels and a deficit in fear extinction (within-session) in the auditory fear-conditioning test, and depressive-like behavior in the acute forced swim stress test. They had higher tissue noradrenaline and serotonin levels and lower dopamine and serotonin turnover under basal conditions, although they were largely insensitive to stress-induced changes in neurotransmitter metabolism. In contrast, acute swim stress increased monoamine levels but decreased turnover in the less fearful L-FSS mice. L-FSS mice also showed a trend toward higher basal and stress-induced corticosterone levels and an increase in noradrenaline and serotonin in the hypothalamus and brainstem 30 min after stress compared to H-FSS mice. Moreover, the dopaminergic system was activated differentially in the medial prefrontal cortex and striatum of the two strains by acute stress. Thus, H-FSS mice showed increased basal noradrenaline tissue levels compatible with a fear phenotype or chronic stressed condition. Low corticosterone levels and the poor monoamine response to stress in H-FSS mice may point to mechanisms similar to those found in principal fear disorders or post-traumatic stress disorder.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Behavioral Neuroscience
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology