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A dendritic organization of lateral amygdala neurons in fear susceptible and resistant mice

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 00:25 authored by Castro-Gomes, V, Bergstrom, HC, McGuire, JL, Parker, CC, Coyner, J, Landeira-Fernandez, J, Ursano, RJ, Palmer, AA, Otto JohnsonOtto Johnson
Subtle differences in neuronal microanatomy may be coded in individuals with genetic susceptibility for neuropsychiatric disorders. Genetic susceptibility is a significant risk factor in the development of anxiety disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Pavlovian fear conditioning has been proposed to model key aspects of PTSD. According to this theory, PTSD begins with the formation of a traumatic memory which connects relevant environmental stimuli to significant threats to life. The lateral amygdala (LA) is considered to be a key network hub for the establishment of Pavlovian fear conditioning. Substantial research has also linked the LA to PTSD. Here we used a genetic mouse model of fear susceptibility (F-S) and resistance (F-R) to investigate the dendritic and spine structure of principal neurons located in the LA. F-S and F-R lines were bi-directionally selected based on divergent levels of contextual and cued conditioned freezing in response to fear-evoking footshocks. We examined LA principal neuron dendritic and spine morphology in the offspring of experimentally naive F-S and F-R mice. We found differences in the spatial distribution of dendritic branch points across the length of the dendrite tree, with a significant increase in branch points at more distal locations in the F-S compared with F-R line. These results suggest a genetic predisposition toward differences in fear memory strength associated with a dendritic branch point organization of principal neurons in the LA. These micro-anatomical differences in neuron structure in a genetic mouse model of fear susceptibility and resistance provide important insights into the cellular mechanisms of pathophysiology underlying genetic predispositions to anxiety and PTSD.


Publication title

Neurobiology of Learning and Memory








School of Psychological Sciences


Academic Press Inc Elsevier Science

Place of publication

525 B St, Ste 1900, San Diego, USA, Ca, 92101-4495

Rights statement

Copyright 2016 Published by Elsevier Inc.

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Mental health

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