Long-term neuroendocrine and behavioural effects of a single exposure to stress in adult animals

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There is now considerable evidence for long-lasting sequels of stress. A single exposure to high intensity predominantly emotional stressors such as immobilisation in wooden-boards (IMO) induces long-term (days to weeks) desensitization of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) response to the same (homotypic) stressor, whereas the response to novel (heterotypic) stressors was enhanced. In addition, long-lasting changes in behaviour have been described after a single exposure to brief or more prolonged sessions of shocks, predator, predator odour, underwater stress or a combination of three stressors on 1 day. The most consistent changes are reduced entries into the open arms of the elevated plus-maze and enhanced acoustic startle response, both reflecting enhanced anxiety. However, it is unclear whether there is any relationship between the intensity of the stressors, as evaluated by the main physiological indexes of stress (e.g. HPA axis), the putative traumatic experience they represent and their long-term behavioural consequences. This is particularly critical when trying to model post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD), which demands a great effort to validate such putative models. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1121-1135
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008


  • Animal PTSD models
  • Anxiety
  • Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis
  • Immobilization
  • Inescapable shock
  • Long-term stress effects
  • Predator
  • Predator odour
  • Single prolonged stress


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