Background: Both the noradrenergic and galaninergic systems have been implicated in stress-related neuropsychiatric disorders, and these two neuromodulators are co-released from the stress-responsive locus coeruleus (LC); however, the individual contributions of LC-derived norepinephrine (NE) and galanin to behavioral stress responses are unclear. Here we aimed to disentangle the functional roles of co-released NE and galanin in stress-induced behavior. Methods: We used foot shock, optogenetics, and behavioral pharmacology in wild-type (WT) mice and mice lacking either NE (Dbh-/-) or galanin (GalcKO-Dbh) specifically in noradrenergic neurons to isolate the roles of these co-transmitters in regulating anxiety-like behavior in the elevated zero maze (EZM) either immediately or 24 h following stress. Results: Foot shock and optogenetic LC stimulation produced immediate anxiety-like behavior in WT mice, and the effects of foot shock persisted for 24 h. NE-deficient mice were resistant to the anxiogenic effects of acute stress and optogenetic LC stimulation, while mice lacking noradrenergic-derived galanin displayed typical increases in anxiety-like behavior. However, when tested 24 h after foot shock, both Dbh-/- and GalcKO-Dbh mice lacked normal expression of anxiety-like behavior. Pharmacological rescue of NE, but not galanin, in knockout mice during EZM testing was anxiogenic. In contrast, restoring galanin, but not NE, signaling during foot shock normalized stress-induced anxiety-like behavior 24 h later. Conclusions: These results indicate that NE and noradrenergic-derived galanin play complementary, but distinguishable roles in behavioral responses to stress. NE is required for the expression of acute stress-induced anxiety, while noradrenergic-derived galanin mediates more persistent responses following a stressor.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience