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Effects of corticosterone synthesis inhibitor metyrapone on anxiety-related behaviors in Lurcher mutant mice

Abstract : Beyond their motor impairments, the cerebellar Lurcher mutant mice show an alteration of the anxiety-related behaviors we called "behavioral disinhibition". This is characterized by a low avoidance towards the open arms of the elevated plus-maze device paradoxically combined with a dramatic blood corticosterone level rise induced by the exposure to the experimental conditions. The present study was aimed at determining if the disinhibition of the mutants could be caused by their stress-induced high corticosterone rate. For this purpose, we compared the behaviors of Lurcher and control mice in the elevated plus-maze test after injection of either 2-methyl-1.2-di-3-pyridil-1-propanone (metyrapone; 75 mg/kg), a corticosterone synthesis inhibitor, or vehicle alone (Tween 80, 5%). Our results showed that metyrapone, although efficiently reducing their blood corticosterone rate, provoked only modest modifications of the anxiety-related behaviors in mice of both genotypes. As a result, the behavioral distance between the Lurcher and control mice slightly decreased, without being totally abolished. Thus, it seems that the behavioral disinhibition of the mutants is caused only in part by their stress-provoked high corticosterone level. As a complementary hypothesis, we propose that the behavioral disturbances observed in the Lurcher mice also might arise from dysfunctions of the neural pathways connecting the cerebellum with some limbic structures known to be highly involved in the regulation of emotions.
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Thomas Lorivel, Marjorie Gras, Pascal Hilber. Effects of corticosterone synthesis inhibitor metyrapone on anxiety-related behaviors in Lurcher mutant mice. Physiology & behavior, 2010, 101 (2), pp.309-314. ⟨10.1016/j.physbeh.2010.05.011⟩. ⟨hal-02355829⟩



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