Noradrenaline triggers GABAA inhibition of bed nucleus of the stria terminalis neurons projecting to the ventral tegmental area

Éric C. Dumont, John T. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

117 Scopus citations


The lateral part of the ventral bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (v1BNST) is a critical site for the antiaversive effects of noradrenergic drugs during opioid withdrawal. The objective of the present study is to identify the cellular action(s) of noradrenaline in the v1BNST after withdrawal from a 5 d treatment with morphine. The v1BNST is a heterogeneous cell group with multiple efferent projections. Therefore, neurons projecting to the midbrain were identified by retrograde transport of fluorescent microspheres injected in the ventral tegmental area (VTA). Whole-cell voltage clamp recordings of these neurons and of those sharing physiological properties were done in brain slices. Noradrenaline activated α1-adrenergic receptors to increase-GABAA-IPSC frequency. Noradrenaline produced a similar increase in GABAA-IPSCs during acute opioid withdrawal, but this increase resulted from activation of β-adrenergic receptors, adenylyl cyclase, and protein kinase A, as well as α1-adrenergic receptors. Given that neurons in the v1BNST send an excitatory projection to the VTA, noradrenaline may reduce excitatory drive to mesolimbic dopamine cells. This mechanism might contribute to the withdrawal-induced inhibition of dopamine neurons and explain how noradrenergic drugs microinjected into the vlBNST reduce aversive aspects of opioid withdrawal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8198-8204
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number38
StatePublished - Sep 22 2004


  • Adenylyl cyclase
  • Electrophysiology
  • Morphine
  • Retrograde labeling
  • Withdrawal
  • α- and β-adrenergic receptors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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