Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology

Prefrontal Cortical Kappa Opioid Receptors Attenuate Responses to Amygdala Inputs.

PMID 25971593


Kappa opioid receptors (KORs) have been implicated in anxiety and stress, conditions that involve activation of projections from the basolateral amygdala (BLA) to the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). Although KORs have been studied in several brain regions, their role on mPFC physiology and on BLA projections to the mPFC remains unclear. Here, we explored whether KORs modify synaptic inputs from the BLA to the mPFC using in vivo electrophysiological recordings with electrical and optogenetic stimulation. Systemic administration of the KOR agonist U69,593 inhibited BLA-evoked synaptic responses in the mPFC without altering hippocampus-evoked responses. Intra-mPFC U69,593 inhibited electrical and optogenetic BLA-evoked synaptic responses, an effect blocked by the KOR antagonist nor-BNI. Bilateral intra-mPFC injection of the KOR antagonist nor-BNI increased center time in the open field test, suggesting an anxiolytic effect. The data demonstrate that mPFC KORs negatively regulate glutamatergic synaptic transmission in the BLA-mPFC pathway and anxiety-like behavior. These findings provide a framework whereby KOR signaling during stress and anxiety can regulate the flow of emotional state information from the BLA to the mPFC.