Dysregulation of proteins involved in synaptic plasticity is associated with pathologies in the CNS, including psychiatric disorders. The bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST), a brain region of the extended amygdala circuit, has been identified as the critical hub responsible for fear responses related to stress coping and pathologic systems states. Here, we report that one particular nucleus, the oval nucleus of the BNST (ovBNST), is rich in brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and tropomyosin receptor kinase B (TrkB) receptor. Whole-cell patch-clamp recordings of neurons from male mouse ovBNST in vitro showed that the BDNF/TrkB interaction causes a hyperpolarizing shift of the membrane potential from resting value, mediated by an inwardly rectifying potassium current, resulting in reduced neuronal excitability in all major types of ovBNST neurons. Furthermore, BDNF/TrkB signaling mediated long-term depression (LTD) at postsynaptic sites in ovBNST neurons. LTD of ovBNST neurons was prevented by a BDNF scavenger or in the presence of TrkB inhibitors, indicating the contribution to LTD induction. Our data identify BDNF/TrkB signaling as a critical regulator of synaptic activity in ovBNST, which acts at postsynaptic sites to dampen excitability at short and long time scales. Given the central role of ovBNST in mediating maladaptive behaviors associated with stress exposure, our findings suggest a synaptic entry point of the BDNF/TrkB system for adaptation to stressful environmental encounters.

BDNF, BNST, fear, LTD, stress, TrkB
dx.doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1104-20.2020, hdl.handle.net/1765/134433
The Journal of Neuroscience
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Department of Psychology

Fiedler, D. (Dominik), Sasi, M. (Manju), Blum, R. (Robert), Klinke, C.M. (Christopher M.), Andreatta, M. (Marta), Pape, H.-C. (Hans-Christian), & Lange, M. (2021). Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor/Tropomyosin Receptor Kinase B Signaling Controls Excitability and Long-Term Depression in Oval Nucleus of the BNST. The Journal of Neuroscience, 41(3), 435–445. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1104-20.2020