The purpose of this study was to investigate the functional role the two corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) receptor subtypes play in regulating the behavioural performance of rats in various well-defined test situations. Antisense oligodeoxynucleotides (ODNs) corresponding to either the rat CRH1 or CRH2 receptor mRNA were infused chronically into the lateral ventricle of male rats via osmotic minipumps (5 μg/0.5 μl/h over 6 days). Control groups received infusions of either a scrambled sequence ODN or mixed bases ODN or vehicle. On day 4 after surgery, the rats were subjected to 10 min of social defeat and immediately afterwards tested on the elevated plus-maze. Compared to a scrambled sequence control ODN, CRH1 receptor antisense ODN infusion was found to exert an anxiolytic-like effect whereas CRH2 receptor antisense ODN infusion had no effect on defeat-induced anxiety-related behaviour. In contrast, the CRH2 receptor antisense ODN increased immobility in a forced swim test whereas CRH1 receptor ODN-treated rats did not differ from controls. No influence of either ODN was found on general locomotor activity in an open field or on short-term memory performance in a social discrimination test. Furthermore, the CRH2 receptor antisense ODN did not affect spatial learning in a Morris water maze task. An additional experiment comparing a mixture of both missense ODNs and a vehicle control group confirmed that the former failed to induce non-specific (toxic) side effects, further substantiating the specificity of the respective antisense effects measured in this study. The results support the hypothesis that the two CRH receptor subtypes selectively mediate differential effects of endogenous CRH or CRH-related peptides at the brain level with the CRH1 receptor contributing predominantly to emotional behaviour and the CRH2 receptor being involved in the regulation of stress coping behaviour.
Journal of Psychiatric Research – Elsevier
Published: Mar 1, 1999
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