Differential involvement of amygdaloid CRH system(s) in the salience and valence of the stimuli

Zul Merali, David Michaud, Judy McIntosh, Pamela Kent, Hymie Anisman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Anxiety is a heterogeneous term encompassing not only state or trait characteristics but also a wide range of pathologies such as generalized anxiety disorders, phobias, panic and obsessive-compulsive disorders, acute stress disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder. Given that diverse forms of anxiety exist, numerous animal models have been developed, which are considered to be useful in identifying mechanisms underlying anxiety states. Examples of such animal models include paradigms that assess the behavioral response to neurogenic (or painful stimuli) or psychogenic stressors or to cues that had previously been associated with painful stimuli. The present report presents data regarding the impact of stressors on corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), and relates these to changes in anxiety-like states. Specifically, we demonstrate that (1) psychogenic stressors influence the in vivo release of CRH at the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA); (2) although CRH changes within the CeA are exquisitely sensitive to stressors, they are also elicited by positive stimuli; and (3) while treatment with diazepam attenuates behavioral signs of anxiety, the CRH release associated with a stressor is unaffected by the treatment. The position is offered that although release of CRH within the CeA is increased under stressful conditions, it is not a necessary condition for the consequent behavioral expression of anxiety-like reactions, at least not in minimally threatening situations. We suggest that the CRH responses at the CeA may be involved in a preparatory capacity and, as such, may accompany a range of emotionally significant stimuli, be they appetitive or aversive.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1201-1212
Number of pages12
JournalProgress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Anxiety
  • Central nucleus of the amygdala
  • Corticotropin-releasing hormone
  • Microdialysis


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