The Journal of clinical investigation

Decreased anxiety-like behavior, reduced stress hormones, and neurosteroid supersensitivity in mice lacking protein kinase Cepsilon.

PMID 12370278


Mice lacking protein kinase Cepsilon (PKCepsilon) are supersensitive to positive allosteric modulators of gamma aminobutyrate type A (GABA(A)) receptors. Since many of these compounds are anxiolytic, we examined whether anxiety-like behavior is altered in these mice. PKCepsilon-null mice showed reduced anxiety-like behavior and reduced levels of the stress hormones corticosterone and adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH). This was associated with increased sensitivity to neurosteroid modulators of GABA(A) receptors. Treatment of PKCepsilon-null mice with the GABA(A) receptor antagonist bicuculline restored corticosterone levels and anxiety-like behavior to wild-type levels. These results suggest that increased GABA(A) receptor sensitivity to neurosteroids contributes to reduced anxiety-like behavior and stress hormone responses in PKCepsilon-null mice. The findings also suggest PKCepsilon as a possible therapeutic target for development of anxiolytics.