Visible burrow system as a model of chronic social stress: behavioral and neuroendocrine correlates.
ABSTRACT In mixed-sex rat groups maintained in visible burrow systems (VBS), consistent asymmetries in offensive and defensive behaviors of male dyads are associated with the development of dominance hierarchies. Subordinate males are characterized by particular wound patterns, severe weight loss, and a variety of behavioral changes, many of them isomorphic to target symptoms of clinical depression. In two VBS studies, subordinate males showed increased basal levels of plasma corticosterone (CORT), and increased adjusted adrenal and spleen weights compared to controls, and often, to dominants as well. Thymus weights and testosterone levels of subordinates were not reliably different in one study using highly aggressive males, but were reduced, along with testes weights, in a second study using unselected males. Glucocorticoid receptor binding levels in hippocampus, hypothalamus, and pituitary were not different, nor were aldosterone levels. When tested in a restraint stress procedure, subordinates had higher basal CORT levels, but about 40% of these animals showed a reduced, or absent, CORT response to restraint. These findings indicate that subordination may be reflected in high magnitude changes consistent with physiological indices of prolonged stress. Dominant rats of such groups may also show physiological changes suggesting stress, particularly when the groups are comprised of highly aggressive males only. The VBS colony model thus appears to enable rat groups to produce natural, stress-engendering, social interactions that constitute a particularly relevant model for investigating the behavioral, neural, and endocrine correlates of chronic stress.
- SourceAvailable from: Kathryn K Chadman[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Animal models of human diseases are in widespread use for biomedical research. Mouse models with a mutation in a single gene or multiple genes are excellent research tools for understanding the role of a specific gene in the etiology of a human genetic disease. Ideally, the mouse phenotypes will recapitulate the human phenotypes exactly. However, exact matches are rare, particularly in mouse models of neuropsychiatric disorders. This article summarizes the current strategies for optimizing the validity of a mouse model of a human brain dysfunction. We address the common question raised by molecular geneticists and clinical researchers in psychiatry, "what is a 'good enough' mouse model"?American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B Neuropsychiatric Genetics 01/2009; 150B(1):1-11. DOI:10.1002/ajmg.b.30777 · 3.27 Impact Factor
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: The need to develop conservation plans calls for the ability to identify ecological factors that influence population density. Because stress is known to affect fecundity and mortality, increasing stress may provide a warning of potential population declines. We examined the effects of temporal variation in nutrition and parasitism on stress in endangered red colobus monkeys in Kibale National Park, Uganda. First, we tested the hypothesis that parasitism and nutrition would individually affect stress levels. We found that periods of poor-quality diet corresponded with an increase in cortisol. Similarly, increases in parasite infections were associated with increased cortisol. Next, we predicted that a poor-quality diet would facilitate increased parasite infections, and that together, they would lead to amplified stress. However, we found no support for such amplification, likely because the quality of the diet had little effect on parasite infections. Third, we tested whether individuals in a larger group were subject to food stress due to greater within-group competition, which would intensify nutritional stress and parasitism, and lead to reduced reproduction. Although we found no evidence to support a group size effect on parasites, cortisol levels in the large group tended to be higher than those in the small group, and the large group had fewer infants per female. The results suggest that parasitism and poor nutrition lead to increased stress which, because they are known to be associated with reduced fecundity and increased mortality, may lead to population declines.American Journal of Physical Anthropology 10/2007; 134(2):240-50. DOI:10.1002/ajpa.20664 · 2.51 Impact Factor
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: The ontogeny of exploratory behavior depending on the intensity of threat in a modified open-field was investigated in male rats aged 40, 65, and 130 days, by comparing with less threatening condition with no shock and more threatening condition where they were exposed to mild electric shock. The number of crossings in a dim peripheral alley was counted as the level of activity. The total duration of stay in the central area was measured as the level of exploration. The number of entries and stretch-attend postures into a bright center square were measured as active exploratory behavior and the risk assessment behavior, respectively. When exposed to mild shock prior to the test, 40-day-old rats decreased these exploratory behaviors, while 65- and 130-day-old rats increased active exploratory behavior (Experiment 1). A lower level of exploratory behavior following a mild shock was found in 65 and 130-day-old rats isolated during the juvenile stage, but not in rats isolated after puberty (Experiment 2). These findings suggest that the direction of changes in exploratory behavior of male rats following an increase in potential danger showed ontogenetic transition, which is mediated by social experiences as juveniles, but not as adults. This transition may be associated with the emergence of active exploratory behavior during the juvenile stage, which is activated by social interaction.Developmental Psychobiology 07/2007; 49(5):522-30. DOI:10.1002/dev.20243 · 3.16 Impact Factor