Corticosteroids have been widely used to treat various inflammatory and immune system related diseases. However, long-term use of corticosteroids can have serious side effects and may cause cognitive impairments. The impact of chronic corticosteroid (CORT) on the ventral tegmental area (VTA), a significant area in the mesolimbic system that controls motivation and reward-seeking behaviors, remains largely unknown. In a study led by Institute faculty Shuai Liu, researchers experimented with peri-adolescent male mice and demonstrated that chronic CORT treatment increased anxiety-like behavior and suppressed food-seeking behavior. The D2R antagonist sulpiride, however, restored neuronal excitability and food-seeking and alleviated anxiety like behaviors, which provides a potential therapeutic target for chronic CORT induced cognitive dysfunctions. Their findings have been published in this field’s leading journal, Journal of Neuroscience.
Peng, B., Xu, Q., Liu, J., Guo, S., Borgland, S. L., & Liu, S. (2021). Corticosterone attenuates reward-seeking behavior and increases anxiety via D2 receptor signaling in ventral tegmental area dopamine neurons. Journal of Neuroscience, 41 (7), 1566-1581.
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Source: School of Psychology and Cognitive Science, East China Normal University