Title: Contribution of cholinergic signaling to circuits involved in behaviors related to anxiety and depression
Acetylcholine signaling influences behaviors related to diverse functions, including drug abuse, attention, food intake, and affect. The ability of acetylcholine to coordinate the response of multiple neuronal circuits makes cholinergic modulation an essential mechanism mediating programs of complex behavior. Blockade of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) by physostigmine can increase symptoms related to anxiety and depression in humans and rodent models and imaging studies have identified increased ACh levels in patients who are acutely depressed. Thus, ACh signaling could contribute to the symptoms and etiology of anxiety and depression. Use of molecular genetic and pharmacological methods in mice have allowed us to identify mechanisms through which ACh and its receptors influence stress-related behaviors at baseline and in response to stress in the amygdala and hippocampus. This presentation will focus on recent studies of the molecular basis for cholinergic regulation of circuits related to anxiety- and depression-like behaviors.