Inescapable stress enhances extracellular acetylcholine in the rat hippocampus and prefrontal cortex but not the nucleus accumbens or amygdala

G. P. Mark, P. V. Rada, T. J. Shors

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

111 Scopus citations


A number of experimental results has pointed to a cholinergic involvement in the stress response. Recently, analytical techniques have become available to measure acetylcholine release in vivo during exposure to various stressors. In these experiments, microdialysis was used to monitor acetylcholine output every 15 min in the dorsal hippocampus, amygdala, nucleus accumbens and prefrontal cortex before, during and after 1 h of restraint, including a 15-min session of intermittent tail-shock (1/min, 1 mA, 1-s duration) in rats. In response to the stressful event, acetylcholine release was significantly increased in the prefrontal cortex (186%; P < 0.01) and hippocampus (168%; P < 0.01) but not in the amygdala or nucleus accumbens. The sole effects observed in the amygdala and nucleus accumbens occurred upon release from the restrainer, at which point acetylcholine levels were significantly elevated in both areas (amygdala: 150%; P < 0.05; nucleus accumbens: 130%; P < 0.05). An enhanced acetylcholine release was also evident during this sample period in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. These data demonstrate an enhancement of cholinergic activity in response to stress in two acetylcholine projection systems (hippocampus and prefrontal cortex) but not in the intrinsic acetylcholine system of the nucleus accumbens or the extrinsic innervation of the amygdala. Moreover, the data showed that relief from stress was accompanied by a more ubiquitous acetylcholine response that extended to each site tested.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)767-774
Number of pages8
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2 1996



  • Acetylcholine release
  • Microdialysis
  • Restraint stress
  • Tail-shock

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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