Several lines of evidence have implicated bombesin and its mammalian analogue, gastrin-releasing peptide (GRP), in the mediation and/or modulation of the stress response. However, the physiological role of GRP in mediating conditioned fear responses remains to be elucidated. The objective of the present study was to characterize the role(s) of GRP and its receptor antagonist (D-Tpi6, Leu13 psi[CH2NH]-Leu14) BB(6-14) (RC-3095) in fear-related responses using two animal models of conditioned fear. To this end, the effects of intracerebroventricular (i.c.v.) administration of GRP (0.062, 0.30, 3.0nmol) and RC-3095 (0.3, 3.0 and 9.0nmol) were assessed in the conditioned emotional response (CER) and the fear-potentiated startle (FPS) paradigms. In the CER paradigm, i.c.v. administration of GRP dose-dependently (all doses) attenuated the expression of both contextual and cued fear as reflected by a reduction in freezing behavior to both the context (cage where shock was received) and cue (tone paired with shock). Conversely, pretreatment with RC-3095 (high dose), blocked the reduction of contextual and cued fear normally observed over time. Further, in the FPS paradigm, i.c.v. administration of GRP significantly attenuated the fear-potentiated startle response at medium and high doses without affecting basal startle amplitude. In contrast, pretreatment with RC-3095 at the highest dose (9.0nmol) significantly increased the basal startle amplitude without affecting fear-potentiation, suggesting elevated fear at the onset of testing. These data provide further evidence that GRP is involved in conditioned fear responses.
- Conditioned emotional response
- Conditioned fear
- Fear-potentiated startle
- Gastrin-releasing peptide