Locus coeruleus anchors a trisynaptic circuit controlling fear-induced suppression of feeding

Ben Yang*, Javier Sanches-Padilla, Jyothisri Kondapalli, Sage L. Morison, Eric Delpire, Rajeshwar Awatramani, D. James Surmeier

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The circuit mechanisms underlying fear-induced suppression of feeding are poorly understood. To help fill this gap, mice were fear conditioned, and the resulting changes in synaptic connectivity among the locus coeruleus (LC), the parabrachial nucleus (PBN), and the central nucleus of amygdala (CeA)—all of which are implicated in fear and feeding—were studied. LC neurons co-released noradrenaline and glutamate to excite PBN neurons and suppress feeding. LC neurons also suppressed inhibitory input to PBN neurons by inducing heterosynaptic, endocannabinoid-dependent, long-term depression of CeA synapses. Blocking or knocking down endocannabinoid receptors in CeA neurons prevented fear-induced depression of CeA synaptic transmission and fear-induced suppression of feeding. Altogether, these studies demonstrate that LC neurons play a pivotal role in modulating the circuitry that underlies fear-induced suppression of feeding, pointing to new ways of alleviating stress-induced eating disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)823-838.e6
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 3 2021


  • amygdala
  • cannabinoid receptors
  • fear
  • feeding
  • locus coeruleus
  • long-term depression
  • neurotransmitter co-release
  • parabrachial nucleus
  • synaptic plasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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