Abstract Ample evidence implicates corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF)-producing neurons of the central amygdaloid nucleus (CeA) in vegetative, endocrine, and behavioral responses to stress and anxiety in laboratory rats. Monoaminergic systems are involved in modulating these responses. In the present paper, interrelations between CRF-immunoreactive (ir) neurons, and noradrenergic, serotonergic, and dopaminergic afferents were studied using single and double immunolabeling for light and electron microscopy in the rat CeA. Dopaminergic axons formed dense plexus in the CeA overlapping with the localization of CRF-ir neurons, and their terminals formed frequent associations with CRF-ir somata. Contacts of serotonergic axons on CRF-ir neurons were few, and contacts of noradrenergic axons were the exception. Ultrastructurally, symmetric synapses of dopaminergic terminals on CRF-ir somata and dendrites were found. More than 83% of CRF-ir somata were contacted in single ultrathin sections. About half of these possessed two or more contacts. Of non-ir somata, 37% were contacted by dopaminergic terminals, and only 13% of these had two or more contacts. Correlative in situ hybridization indicated that CeA CRF-ir neurons may express receptor subtype dopamine receptor subtype 2. In conclusion, dopaminergic afferents appear to specifically target CeA CRF neurons. They are thus in a position to exert significant influence on the rat amygdaloid CRF stress system.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Medical Laboratory Technology
- Cell Biology