Stress increases vulnerability to anxiety and depression. We have investigated the effect of acute immobilization stress in amygdalohippocampal circuits by measuring the electroencephalogram (EEG) in male Wistar rats during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Electrodes were implanted stereotaxically in the hippocampus (CA1 and CA3 subregions of the hippocampus) and the amygdala (lateral nucleus). Prior to the stress, two baseline recordings were taken. Twenty-four hours later rats were exposed once to acute immobilization stress (AIS) session for 2 h. After the release and on subsequent days, electrophysiological changes that occurred due to stress during REM sleep were analyzed by comparing them with baseline measurements. Our results suggest that acute immobilization stress induced significant increase in REM sleep in the first 24 h after the exposure. In addition to changes in the sleep patterns, we have observed increased theta oscillations in CA1 area of the hippocampus with decreased coherence at theta range (4-8 Hz) between hippocampus and amygdala. These results suggest that single exposure to aversive experience such as immobilization stress can lead to dynamic changes in neuronal activities with altered sleep morphology. The results obtained in the present study are comparable to those seen in human patients suffering from panic, and anxiety due to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
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