- The role of the rare soluble splice variant of acetylcholinesterase (AChE-R) in anxiety behavior was assayed using the elevated plus maze (EPM). The effects of pretreatment with restraint stress and the acetylcholinesterase inhibitor diisopropylfluorophosphate (DFP) were tested, as these treatments are known to enhance the expression of AChE-R in several brain regions. Mice from the CD-1 outbred and C57BL/6 inbred strains were randomly assigned to seven treatment groups: homecage control, elevated plus maze without pretreatment, 3 days restraint stress or 3 days pretreatment with saline or one of three doses of DFP, for a total of 14 groups. All mice, except homecage controls, were tested twice on the elevated plus maze. AChE-R transcript expression was increased following elevated plus maze stress in hippocampus and amygdala, but not in the prefrontal cortex of CD-1 and not in C57BL/6 mice. Saline-injected C57BL/6 mice had reduced expression of AChE-R transcripts compared to untreated C57 BL/6 mice. DFP pretreatment reversed the stress-induced changes, increased AChE-R transcripts in CD-1 mice. AChE-R expression in the striatum and amygdala were positively correlated with anxiety in the EPM.