Mitophagy in the basolateral amygdala mediates increased anxiety induced by aversive social experience

Kaizheng Duan, Qinhua Gu, Ronald S. Petralia, Ya Xian Wang, Debabrata Panja, Xing Liu, Michael L. Lehmann, Huiwen Zhu, Jun Zhu, Zheng Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Psychosocial stress is a common risk factor for anxiety disorders. The cellular mechanism for the anxiogenic effect of psychosocial stress is largely unclear. Here, we show that chronic social defeat (CSD) stress in mice causes mitochondrial impairment, which triggers the PINK1-Parkin mitophagy pathway selectively in the amygdala. This mitophagy elevation causes excessive mitochondrial elimination and consequent mitochondrial deficiency. Mitochondrial deficiency in the basolateral amygdalae (BLA) causes weakening of synaptic transmission in the BLA-BNST (bed nucleus of the stria terminalis) anxiolytic pathway and increased anxiety. The CSD-induced increase in anxiety-like behaviors is abolished in Pink1−/− and Park2−/− mice and alleviated by optogenetic activation of the BLA-BNST synapse. This study identifies an unsuspected role of mitophagy in psychogenetic-stress-induced anxiety elevation and reveals that mitochondrial deficiency is sufficient to increase anxiety and underlies the psychosocial-stress-induced anxiety increase. Mitochondria and mitophagy, therefore, can be potentially targeted to ameliorate anxiety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3793-3809.e8
Issue number23
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


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