Serotonin modulation of sensory inputs to the lateral amygdala: Dependency on corticosterone

Grace E. Stutzmann, Bruce S. McEwen, Joseph E. Ledoux

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The lateral nucleus of the amygdala (LA) receives excitatory (glutamatergic) inputs from thalamic and cortical sensory processing areas and is believed to be involved in evaluation of the affective significance of sensory events. We examined whether serotonin (5-HT) affects excitatory transmission in auditory afferents to the LA and, if so, whether this modulation of sensory transmission is regulated by the stress hormone corticosterone (CORT). Neuronal activity in the LA was elicited via iontophoretic ejection of L-glutamate or synaptically via electrical stimulation of auditory afferent pathways. In the intact rat, iontophoretically applied 5-HT inhibited both synaptically and glutamate- evoked action potentials in most neurons examined. However, after adrenalectomy (ADX), which eliminates endogenous CORT, 5-HT no longer inhibited evoked activity in the LA. High-CORT doses given to ADX animals reinstated the inhibition of excitatory transmission of 5-HT, whereas low- CORT doses had little effect. Immunocytochemical labeling of the glucocorticoid receptor in the intact rat demonstrated nuclear staining throughout several amygdala regions, including the LA. However, after ADX, no nuclear labeling was visible. With a high replacement dose of CORT (5 or 10 mg) after ADX, dense nuclear staining returned, but with a low replacement dose (1 mg/kg), there was only light nuclear staining. Thus, the ability of 5-HT to modulate glutamatergic activity in auditory pathways to the amygdala is dependent on the presence of CORT and possibly glucocorticoid activation. Via this mechanism, 5-HT modulates the processing of sensory information within the LA and thus may regulate amygdala-related functions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9529-9538
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number22
StatePublished - Nov 15 1998


  • Amygdala
  • Corticosterone
  • Glutamate
  • Rat
  • Serotonin
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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