Aversive and Appetitive Events Evoke the Release of Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone and Bombesin-Like Peptides at the Central Nucleus of the Amygdala

Document Type



Brain and Mind Institute


There is wide agreement that corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) systems within the brain are activated by stressful stimuli. There is also mounting evidence for the role of bombesin (BN)-like peptides in the mediation of the stress response. To date, however, the extent to which other stimuli increase the activity of these peptidergic systems has received little attention. In the present investigation we validated and used in vivo microdialysis sampling followed by ex vivo radioimmunoassays to monitor the release of CRH and BN-like peptides during appetitive (food intake) and stressful (restraint) events. It is demonstrated for the first time that the in vivo release of CRH and BN-like peptides at the central nucleus of the amygdala was markedly increased by both stressor exposure and food ingestion. In fact, the meal-elicited rise of CRH release was as great as that associated with 20 min of restraint stress. Paralleling these findings, circulating ACTH and corticosterone levels were also increased in response to both food intake and restraint. Contrary to the current views, these results indicate that either food ingestion is interpreted as a “stressful” event by certain neural circuits involving the central amygdala or that the CRH- and BN-related peptidergic systems may serve a much broader role than previously envisioned. Rather than evoking feelings of fear and anxiety, these systems may serve to draw attention to events or cues of biological significance, such as those associated with food availability as well as those posing a threat to survival.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Journal of Neuroscience