Evidence that the median raphé nucleus--dorsal hippocampal pathway mediates diazepam withdrawal-induced anxiety

N Andrews, S E File, C Fernandes, L E Gonzalez, N M Barnes

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50 Citations (Scopus)


On the basis of our previous series of experiments we had postulated that the increased anxiety that occurred during diazepam withdrawal was mediated by increased 5-HT release in the hippocampus. The present series of experiments provide evidence for a major role of the median raphé nucleus (MRN) dorsal hippocampal pathway. Rats were treated once daily for 21 days with diazepam (2 mg/kg IP) and then tested after 24 h withdrawal in the social interaction test of anxiety. Relative to chronically vehicle treated animals, those withdrawn from diazepam were significantly more anxious and had significantly greater K(+)-evoked release of [3H]-5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) from slices of dorsal and of ventral regions of the hippocampus. Estimation of extracellular concentrations of 5-HT within the dorsal hippocampus, using in-vivo microdialysis, showed doubling in the levels of 5-HT in the rats withdrawn from chronic diazepam treatment. This just failed to reach significance, but 33% of the rats showed dramatic increases (650%). It was not possible to test these animals in the social interaction test, but it is proposed that only the diazepam-withdrawn rats with raised extracellular levels of 5-HT would have displayed increased anxiety. 5-HT1A receptor agonists injected into the MRN decrease the MRN firing rate, and hence the release of 5-HT in the dorsal hippocampus. As a further test of our hypothesis, we examined the effects of MRN injection of the 5-HT1A receptor agonist, 8-OH DPAT, on animals withdrawn from diazepam and tested in the low light familiar condition of the social interaction test. 8-OH DPAT (50-200 ng) dose-dependently reversed the anxiogenic effect of diazepam withdrawal, while having no effects in chronic vehicle-treated animals. These results provide clear evidence that the MRN-dorsal hippocampal 5-HT pathway is at least one of the pathways playing an important role in mediating diazepam withdrawal-induced anxiety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)228-34
Number of pages7
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1997


  • Animals
  • Diazepam/adverse effects
  • Hippocampus/chemistry
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Neural Pathways/physiopathology
  • Raphe Nuclei/chemistry
  • Rats
  • Serotonin/analysis
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome/physiopathology


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