Background: Corticosteroid hormones regulate appraisal and consolidation of information via mineralocorticoid receptors (MRs) and glucocorticoid receptors (GRs) respectively. How activation of these receptors modulates retrieval of fearful information and the subsequent expression of fear is largely unknown. We tested here whether blockade of MRs or GRs during retrieval also affects subsequent expression of fear memory.
Methodology/Principal Findings: Mice were trained in contextual or tone cue fear conditioning paradigms, by pairing mild foot shocks with a particular context or tone respectively. Twenty-four hours after training, context-conditioned animals were re-exposed to the context for 3 or 30 minutes (day 2); tone-conditioned animals were placed in a different context and re-exposed to one or six tones. Twenty-four hours (day 3) and one month later, freezing behavior to the aversive context/tone was scored again. MR or GR blockade was achieved by giving spironolactone or RU486 subcutaneously one hour before retrieval on day 2. Spironolactone administered prior to brief context re-exposure reduced freezing behavior during retrieval and 24 hours later, but not one month later. Administration of spironolactone without retrieval of the context or immediately after retrieval on day 2 did not reduce freezing on day 3. Re-exposure to the context for 30 minutes on day 2 significantly reduced freezing on day 3 and one month later, but freezing was not further reduced by spironolactone. Administration of spironolactone prior to tone-cue re-exposure on day 2 did not affect freezing behavior. Treatment with RU486 prior to re-exposure did not affect context or tone-cue fear memories at any time point.
Conclusions/Significance: We conclude that MR blockade prior to retrieval strongly reduces the expression of contextual fear, implying that MRs, rather than GRs, play an important role in retrieval of emotional information and subsequent fear expression.
- DAY-OLD CHICKS