Neuroanatomical and functional characterization of CRF neurons of the amygdala using a novel transgenic mouse model

P. N. De Francesco, S. Valdivia, A. Cabral, M. Reynaldo, J. Raingo, I. Sakata, S. Osborne-Lawrence, J. M. Zigman, M. Perelló

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF)-producing neurons of the amygdala have been implicated in behavioral and physiological responses associated with fear, anxiety, stress, food intake and reward. To overcome the difficulties in identifying CRF neurons within the amygdala, a novel transgenic mouse line, in which the humanized recombinant Renilla reniformis green fluorescent protein (hrGFP) is under the control of the CRF promoter (CRF-hrGFP mice), was developed. First, the CRF-hrGFP mouse model was validated and the localization of CRF neurons within the amygdala was systematically mapped. Amygdalar hrGFP-expressing neurons were located primarily in the interstitial nucleus of the posterior limb of the anterior commissure, but also present in the central amygdala. Secondly, the marker of neuronal activation c-Fos was used to explore the response of amygdalar CRF neurons in CRF-hrGFP mice under different experimental paradigms. C-Fos induction was observed in CRF neurons of CRF-hrGFP mice exposed to an acute social defeat stress event, a fasting/refeeding paradigm or lipopolysaccharide (LPS) administration. In contrast, no c-Fos induction was detected in CRF neurons of CRF-hrGFP mice exposed to restraint stress, forced swimming test, 48-h fasting, acute high-fat diet (HFD) consumption, intermittent HFD consumption, ad libitum HFD consumption, HFD withdrawal, conditioned HFD aversion, ghrelin administration or melanocortin 4 receptor agonist administration. Thus, this study fully characterizes the distribution of amygdala CRF neurons in mice and suggests that they are involved in some, but not all, stress or food intake-related behaviors recruiting the amygdala.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-165
Number of pages13
StatePublished - Mar 9 2015


  • Amygdala
  • CRH
  • Food intake
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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