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Gender-dependent regulation of anxiety-like behavior by δ subunit-containing GABAA receptor during postnatal development

He, Yea,b,*; Zheng, Zhi-Henga,*; Zhou, Jina; Hu, Pingc; Huang, Bo-Weia; Liu, Wei-Zhua; You, Wen-Jiea; Pan, Han-Qinga; Pan, Bing-Xinga; Zhang, Wen-Huaa

doi: 10.1097/WNR.0000000000001192
Cellular, Molecular and Developmental Neuroscience

The δ subunit-containing GABAA receptor [GABAA(δ)R], which is exclusively situated in the extrasynaptic space, has considerable influence on emotion and behavior. Although the expression of this receptor experiences dramatic fluctuation during postnatal development, it remains unknown whether it regulates emotion in a development-dependent manner. Here, by using mice with genetic deletion of GABAA(δ)R (knockout) and their wild-type littermates, we examined the role of GABAA(δ)R in regulating anxiety-like behavior, as measured with open field test (OFT) and elevated plus maze during the transition from puberty to adulthood. We observed that for female mice, the knockout ones at puberty but not adulthood showed increased anxiety-like behavior in the OFT relative to their wild-type littermates. However, such increase was not observed in elevated plus maze. For male mice, no between-genotype differences were observed in both tests at the above two developmental stages. Our results suggest that GABAA(δ)R preferentially affects the anxiety-like behavior in OFT in a development-dependent manner, but only in female mice.

aLaboratory of Fear and Anxiety Disorders, Institute of Life Science

bCenter for Basic Medical Experiment

cInstitute of Translational Medicine, Nanchang University, Nanchang, China

* Ye He and Zhi-Heng Zheng contributed equally to the writing of this article.

Received 31 October 2018 Accepted 19 December 2018

Correspondence to Wen-Hua Zhang, DSc, Laboratory of Fear and Anxiety Disorders, Institute of Life Science, Nanchang University, 999 Xuefu Road, Nanchang 330031, China, Tel/fax: +86 791 8382 7081; e-mail:

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