The bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) is a sexually dimorphic brain region which plays a key role in stress, anxiety, and anxiety-related disorders. Human females have an increased susceptibility to anxiety-related disorders, however the physiological basis of this is not fully understood. Here we examined the effect of the oestrous cycle and sex on the electrophysiological properties of Type I and Type II cells in the anterolateral area of the BNST (BNST ALG ) in unstressed animals. There was no significant effect of oestrous cycle on any of the parameters examined in either cell type. Compared to males, the female cohort had lower capacitance in Type I cells while having a higher capacitance in Type II cells. Type II cells also displayed decreased excitability in the female cohort. In order to confirm the effect of these populations on stress and anxiety, a correlation with behaviour on the elevated zero maze was carried out. We observed that increased excitability in Type II neurons correlated with a decrease in anxiety-like behaviour. These sex-specific differences in excitability may contribute to altered susceptibility to anxiety-related disorders.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience