Contextual fear response is modulated by M-type K+ channels and is associated with subtle structural changes of the axon initial segment in hippocampal GABAergic neurons

Sara Arciniegas Ruiz*, Eliav Tikochinsky, Vardit Rubovitch, Chaim G. Pick, Bernard Attali

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: In the fear memory network, the hippocampus modulates contextual aspects of fear learning while mutual connections between the amygdala and the medial prefrontal cortex are widely involved in fear extinction. G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are involved in the regulation of fear and anxiety, so the regulation of GPCRs in fear signaling pathways can modulate the mechanisms of fear memory acquisition, consolidation and extinction. Various studies suggested a role of M-type K+ channels in modulating fear expression and extinction, although conflicting data prevented drawing of clear conclusions. In the present work, we examined the impact of M-type K+ channel blockade or activation on contextual fear acquisition and extinction. In addition, regarding the pivotal role of the hippocampus in contextual fear conditioning (CFC) and the involvement of the axon initial segment (AIS) in neuronal plasticity, we investigated whether structural alterations of the AIS in hippocampal neurons occurred during contextual fear memory acquisition and short-time extinction in mice in a behaviorally relevant context. Results: When a single systemic injection of the M-channel blocker XE991 (2 mg/kg, IP) was carried out 15 minutes before the foot shock session, fear expression was significantly reduced. Expression of c-Fos was increased following CFC, mostly in GABAergic neurons at day 1 and day 2 post-fear training in CA1 and dentate gyrus hippocampal regions. A significantly longer AIS segment was observed in GABAergic neurons of the CA1 hippocampal region at day 2. Conclusions: Our results underscore the role of M-type K + channels in CFC and the importance of hippocampal GABAergic neurons in fear expression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-51
Number of pages19
JournalAIMS Neuroscience
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2023

Keywords

  • GABAergic neurons
  • fear conditioning
  • hippocampus
  • neuronal plasticity
  • potassium channels

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