UMMS/TSRI Researchers Discover New Neuronal Pathway Responsible for Anxiety During Nicotine Withdrawal
LA JOLLA, CA – April 21, 2015 – Few months ago we published a paper in Nature Neuroscience providing evidence that a previously unknown population of corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) neurons in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) was responsible for the emergence of nicotine withdrawal and excessive nicotine intake observed in dependent mice and rats. One important question which was left unanswered in the previous study was "Where do these VTA CRF neurons projects to?
The present report, in collaboration with the Tapper lab, not only confirms our previous findings but also answers the question of the projections of the VTA CRF neurons. This new paper provides evidence that the newly discovered population VTA CRF neurons projects to the interpeduncular nucleus (IPN) and that withdrawal-induced anxiety-like behavior is produced by increased CRF release from the VTA to the IPN. In addition, this report shows that activation of the VTA-IPN CRF pathway potentiates another converging projection fron the habenula to the IPN which also contributes to the emergence of anxiety-like behavior during withdrawal. Finally, this report demonstrate that these effects are mediated by activatio of CRF 1 receptors in the IPN.
Congratulations to Dr. Andrew Tapper (UMMS) for this "tour de force" representing years of research. Well deserved!
Link to the paper: Nature's website