The effects of neurosteroids and neuropeptides on anxiety-related behavior

  • Author / Creator
    Engin, Elif
  • Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent of all psychiatric conditions. However, current pharmacological treatments for anxiety disorders are characterized by one or more of the following deficiencies: 1) unwanted side effects, 2) partial efficacy, 3) addictive potential, and 4) delayed onset of therapeutic effects. These therapeutic liabilities motivate the search for better pharmacological treatments. This research effort has been concentrated in three broad, neuropharmacological domains: 1) Sub-unit specific GABAA receptor agonists, 2) Neurosteroids, and 3) Neuropeptides. The general purpose of this thesis was to advance our understanding of the putative anxiolytic potential of neurosteroids and neuropeptides, and their neural mechanisms of action, as revealed by intracerebral infusion studies in animal models of anxiety. Chapter 1 of this thesis will provide a systematic review of what is now known about the behavioral effects of intra-cerebrally infused agonists and antagonists of anxiolytic compounds in animal models of anxiety. A theoretical context in which to view the empirical work is also outlined. Chapter 2 will provide a brief introduction to neurosteroids and neuropeptides, and their potential as anxiolytic drugs as suggested by the current literature. In Chapter 3, the anxiolytic-like effects of the neurosteroid allopregnanolone were examined in the amygdala, the hippocampus or the medial prefrontal cortex. Allopregnanolone had site- and test-specific anxiolytic effects, causing anxiolysis following infusion into the amygdala and the medial prefrontal cortex. In Chapter 4, the anxiety-related effects of two receptor antagonists of the neuropeptide arginine vasopressin were investigated in the hippocampus. Anxiolytic effects were specific to both receptor sub-type and by infusion site. In chapter 5, the putative anxiolytic and antidepressant effects of the neuropeptide somatostatin were investigated. Intracerebroventricular microinfusion of somatostatin produced anxiolytic-like and antidepressant-like signatures in distinct domains. In chapter 6, selective agonists for each of the 5 G-protein coupled somatostatin receptors were administered to rats. Intracerebroventricular administration of an sst2 agonist produced anxiolytic-like effects, whereas an antidepressant-like effect was observed following the administration of both sst2 and sst3 agonists. In summary, the present thesis provides important clues to the neurochemical correlates of anxiety, and its potential treatment with alternative compounds such as neuropeptides.

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  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
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    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
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  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Todd, Kathryn (Psychiatry)
    • Dickson, Clayton (Psychology)
    • Shekhar, Anantha (Psychiatry, Indiana University)
    • Hurd, Peter (Psychology)
    • Colbourne, Frederick (Psychology)