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Journal of Neuroscience

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Activation of the amygdala in rats produces cardiovascular changes that include increases in heart rate and arterial pressure as well as behavioral changes characteristic of emotional arousal. The objective of the present study was to examine the interaction of GABA and excitatory amino acid (EAA) receptors in the basolateral amygdala (BLA) in regulating cardiovascular function. Microinjection of the GABAA receptor antagonist bicuculline methiodide (BMI) or the E A A receptor agonists NMDA or AMPA into the same region of the BLA of conscious rats produced dose-related increases in heart rate and arterial pressure. Injection of the nonselective EAA receptor antagonist kynurenic acid into the BLA prevented or reversed the cardiovascular changes caused by local injection of BMI or the noncompetitive GABA antagonist picrotoxin. Conversely, local pretreatment with the glutamate reuptake inhibitorl-trans-pyrrolidine-2,4-dicarboxylic acid enhanced the effects of intra-amygdalar injection of BMI. The cardiovascular effects of BMI were also attenuated by injection of either the NMDA antagonist 3-(2-carboxypiperazin-4-yl)-propyl-1-phosphonic acid (CPP) or the AMPA receptor antagonist 1,2,3,4-tetrahydro-6-nitro-2,3-dioxo-benzo[f]quinoxaline-7-sulfonamide (NBQX). When these two EAA receptor antagonists were combined, their ability to suppress BMI-induced tachycardic and pressor responses was additive. These findings indicate that the cardiovascular effects caused by blockade of GABAergic inhibition in the BLA of the rat are dependent on activation of local NMDA and AMPA receptors.


This article was originally published in the Journal of Neuroscience, 1997, Volume 17, Issue 23.