The basolateral amygdala (BLA), medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) circuit, plays a crucial role in acquisition and extinction of fear memory. Extinction of aversive memories is mediated, at least in part, by the phosphoinositide-3 kinase (PI3K)/Akt pathway in adult rats. There is recent interest in the neural mechanisms that mediate fear and extinction in juvenile animals and whether these mechanisms are distinctive from those in adult animals. In the present study, we examined (1) changes in phosphorylation of Akt in the BLA and mPFC after fear conditioning and extinction in juvenile and adult rats and (2) the effect of BLA and mPFC localized inhibition of the PI3K following acquisition and extinction of contextual fear memory. Our results show that Akt phosphorylation is increased following acquisition of contextual fear learning in the BLA but not in the mPFC in adult and juvenile rats. Extinction learning was not associated with changes in Akt phosphorylation. Although there were no differences in the pattern of phosphorylation of Akt either in adult or juvenile rats, microinjection of the PI3K inhibitor, LY294002, into the BLA or mPFC elicited differential effects on fear memory acquisition and extinction, depending on the site and timing of the microinjection, as well as on the age of the animal. These results suggest that PI3K/Akt has a differential role in formation, retrieval, and extinction of contextual fear memory in juvenile and adult animals, and point to developmental differences between adult and juvenile rats in mechanisms of extinction.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by Israel Science Foundation grant (#663/13) to M.M.
© 2016 Slouzkey and Maroun.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience