Long-term effects of a single exposure to stress in adult rats on behavior and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal responsiveness: Comparison of two outbred rat strains

Xavier Belda, Cristina Márquez, Antonio Armario

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We have previously observed that a single exposure to immobilization (IMO), a severe stressor, caused long-term (days to weeks) desensitization of the response of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis to the homotypic stressor, with no changes in behavioral reactivity to novel environments. In contrast, other laboratories have reported that a single exposure to footshock induced a long-term sensitization of both HPA and behavioral responses to novel environments. To test whether these apparent discrepancies can be explained by the use of different stressors or different strains of rats, we studied in the present work the long-term effects of a single exposure to two different stressors (footshock or IMO) in two different strains of rats (Sprague-Dawley from Iffa-Credo and Wistar rats from Harlan). We found that both strains showed desensitization of the HPA response to the same (homotypic) stressor after a previous exposure to either shock or IMO. The long-term effects were higher after IMO than shock. No major changes in behavior in two novel environments (circular corridor, CC and elevated plus-maze, EPM) were observed after a single exposure to shock or IMO in neither strain, despite the fact that shocked rats showed a conditioned freezing response to the shock boxes. The present results demonstrate that long-term stress-induced desensitization of the HPA axis is a reliable phenomenon that can be observed with different stressors and strains. However, only behavioral changes related to shock-induced conditioned fear were found, which suggests that so far poorly characterized factors are determining the long-term behavioral consequences of a single exposure to stress. © 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)399-408
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Volume154
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 5 Oct 2004

Keywords

  • ACTH
  • Anxiety
  • Corticosterone
  • Fear conditioning
  • Immobilization
  • Novel environments
  • Shock

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