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Keywords:

  • A1 cells;
  • A2 cells;
  • amygdala;
  • restraint;
  • stress

Abstract

Psychological stressors trigger the activation of medullary noradrenergic cells, an effect that has been shown to depend upon yet-to-be-identified structures located higher in the brain. To test whether the amygdala is important in this regard, we examined the effects of amygdala lesions on noradrenergic cell responses to restraint, and also looked at whether any amygdala cells that respond to restraint project directly to the medulla. Ibotenic acid lesions of the medial amygdala completely abolished restraint-induced Fos expression in A1 and A2 noradrenergic cells. In contrast, lesions of the central amygdala actually facilitated noradrenergic cell responses to restraint. Tracer deposits in the dorsomedial (but not ventrolateral) medulla retrogradely labelled many cells in the central nucleus of the amygdala, but none of these cells expressed Fos in response to restraint. These data suggest for the first time that the medial amygdala is critical to the activation of medullary noradrenergic cells by a psychological stressor whereas the central nucleus exerts an opposing, inhibitory influence upon noradrenergic cell recruitment. The initiation of noradrenergic cell responses by the medial amygdala does not involve a direct projection to the medulla. Accordingly, a relay through some other structure, such as the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus, warrants careful consideration.