About this Research Topic
In recent years there has been increasing interest in the role of the lateral habenula (LHb) in stress-related psychiatric disorders because LHb dysfunction is associated with depression, anxiety, and drug addiction. The LHb is a well-conserved epithalamic brain region composed almost entirely of glutamatergic neurons. The LHb mainly exerts a potent inhibitory influence on ventral tegmental area (VTA) dopamine neurons and raphe nucleus serotonin neurons within the brainstem through intermediary GABAergic signaling. Due to this prominent inhibitory influence on these monoaminergic brain nuclei, the LHb acts as a node of communication between forebrain and midbrain regions that regulates emotional behaviors, giving credence to its critical role in depression and aversive behaviors. Indeed, LHb neurons become hyperactive in humans with depression and in animal models of depression and addiction. This suggests that a dysfunction in the output signal from the LHb contributes to dysregulation of brain monoaminergic signaling during depression and aversive states associated with addiction. This Research Topic will discuss the latest advances in our understanding of the role of LHb circuits in negative reward, aversion and the pathophysiology of depression and addiction. The areas covered here include cell signaling, epigenetics, cellular physiology, synaptic plasticity, behaviors associated with LHb function and dysfunction, and potential novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of depression and addictive disorders.
Keywords: Lateral Habenula, Synaptic Plasticity, Depression, Addiction, Reward
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