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Papers of the Week

Papers: 3 Jul 2021 - 9 Jul 2021


Handb Clin Neurol


Chemoarchitecture of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis: Neurophenotypic diversity and function.


Hammack SE, Braas KM, May V
Handb Clin Neurol. 2021; 179:385-402.
PMID: 34225977.


The bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) is a compact but neurophenotypically complex structure in the ventral forebrain that is structurally and functionally linked to other limbic structures, including the amygdala nuclear complex, hypothalamic nuclei, hippocampus, and related midbrain structures, to participate in a wide range of functions, especially emotion, emotional learning, stress-related responses, and sexual behaviors. From a variety of sensory inputs, the BNST acts as a node for signal integration and coordination for information relay to downstream central neuroendocrine and autonomic centers for appropriate homeostatic physiological and behavioral responses. In contrast to the role of the amygdala in fear, the BNST has gained wide interest from work suggesting that it has main roles in mediating sustained responses to diffuse, unpredictable and/or long-duration threats that are typically associated with anxiety-related responses. Further, some BNST subregions are highly sexually dimorphic which appear contributory to the differential stress and social interactive behaviors, including reproductive responses, between males and females. Notably, maladaptive BNST neuroplasticity and function have been implicated in chronic pain, depression, anxiety-related abnormalities, and other psychopathologies including posttraumatic stress disorders. The BNST circuits are predominantly GABAergic-the glutaminergic neurons represent a minor population-but the complexity of the system results from an overlay of diverse neuropeptide coexpression in these neurons. More than a dozen neuropeptides may be differentially coexpressed in BNST neurons, and from variable G protein-coupled receptor signaling, may inhibit or activate downstream circuit activities. The mechanisms and roles of these peptides in modulating intrinsic BNST neurocircuit signaling and BNST long-distance target cell projections are still not well understood. Nevertheless, an understanding of some of the principal players may allow assembly of the circuit interactions.