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Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research

On-line version ISSN 1414-431X


CAMPLESI JR, M. et al. Dorsal periaqueductal gray stimulation facilitates anxiety-, but not panic-related, defensive responses in rats tested in the elevated T-maze. Braz J Med Biol Res [online]. 2012, vol.45, n.11, pp.1025-1030.  Epub Aug 02, 2012 ISSN 1414-431X.

The escape response to electrical or chemical stimulation of the dorsal periaqueductal gray matter (DPAG) has been associated with panic attacks. In order to explore the validity of the DPAG stimulation model for the study of panic disorder, we determined if the aversive consequences of the electrical or chemical stimulation of this midbrain area can be detected subsequently in the elevated T-maze. This animal model, derived from the elevated plus-maze, permits the measurement in the same rat of a generalized anxiety- and a panic-related defensive response, i.e., inhibitory avoidance and escape, respectively. Facilitation of inhibitory avoidance, suggesting an anxiogenic effect, was detected in male Wistar rats (200-220 g) tested in the elevated T-maze 30 min after DPAG electrical stimulation (current generated by a sine-wave stimulator, frequency at 60 Hz) or after local microinjection of the GABAA receptor antagonist bicuculline (5 pmol). Previous electrical (5, 15, 30 min, or 24 h before testing) or chemical stimulation of this midbrain area did not affect escape performance in the elevated T-maze or locomotion in an open-field. No change in the two behavioral tasks measured by the elevated T-maze was observed after repetitive (3 trials) electrical stimulation of the DPAG. The results indicate that activation of the DPAG caused a short-lived, but selective, increase in defensive behaviors associated with generalized anxiety.

Keywords : Panic disorder; Anxiety; Elevated T-maze; Dorsal periaqueductal gray stimulation.

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