Mineralocorticoid receptors in the medial prefrontal cortex and hippocampus mediate rats' unconditioned fear behaviour

Kristopher McEown, Dallas Treit*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Corticosterone is released from the adrenal cortex in response to stress, and binds to glucocorticosteroid receptors (GRs) and mineralocorticosteroid receptors (MRs) in the brain. Areas such as the dorsal hippocampus (DH), ventral hippocampus (VH) and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) all contain MRs and have been previously implicated in fear and/or memory.The purpose of the following experiments was to examine the role of these distinct populations of MRs in rats' unconditioned fear and fear memory.The MR antagonist (RU28318) was microinfused into the DH, VH, or mPFC of rats. Ten minutes later, their unconditioned fear was tested in the elevated plus-maze and the shock-probe tests, two behavioral models of rat "anxiety." Twenty-four hours later, conditioned fear of a non-electrified probe was assessed in rats re-exposed the shock-probe apparatus.Microinfusions of RU28318 into each of the three brain areas reduced unconditioned fear in the shock-probe burying test, but only microinfusions into the VH reduced unconditioned fear in the plus-maze test. RU28318 did not affect conditioned fear of the shock-probe 24 hr later.MRs in all three areas of the brain mediated unconditioned fear to a punctate, painful stimulus (probe shock). However, only MRs in the ventral hippocampus seemed to mediate unconditioned fear of the more diffuse threat of open spaces (open arms of the plus maze). In spite of the known roles of the hippocampus in spatial memory and conditioned fear memory, MRs within these sites did not appear to mediate memory of the shock-probe.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)581-588
Number of pages8
JournalHormones and Behavior
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Nov
Externally publishedYes


  • Dorsal and Ventral Hippocampus
  • Fear and fear memory
  • Medial prefrontal cortex
  • Mineralocorticosteroid receptors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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