Social stress and recovery: implications for body weight and body composition
ABSTRACT Social stress resulting from dominant-subordinate relationships is associated with body weight loss and altered body composition in subordinate (SUB) male rats. Here, we extend these findings to determine whether stress-induced changes in energy homeostasis persist when the social stress is removed, and the animal is allowed to recover. We examined body weight (BW), body composition, and relevant endocrine measures after one or two cycles of 14 days of social stress, each followed by 21 days of recovery in each rat's individual home cage. SUB lost significantly more BW during social housing in a visible burrow system (VBS) compared with dominant (DOM) animals. Weight loss during social stress was attributable to a decrease in adipose tissue in DOM and SUB, with an additional loss of lean tissue in SUB. During both 21-day recovery periods, DOM and SUB regained lost BW, but only SUB were hyperphagic. Following recovery, SUB had a relatively larger increase in adipose tissue and plasma leptin compared with DOM, indicating that body composition changes were dependent on social status. Control animals that were weight matched to SUB or male rats exposed to the VBS environment without females, and that did not form a social hierarchy, did not exhibit changes in body composition like SUB in the VBS. Therefore, chronic social stress causes social status-dependent changes in BW, composition and endocrine measures that persist after repeated stress and recovery cycles and that may ultimately lead to metabolic disorders and obesity.
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ABSTRACT: Stress activates multiple neural and endocrine systems in order to allow an animal to respond to and survive in a threatening environment. The corticotropin releasing factor system is a primary initiator of this integrated response which includes activation of the sympathetic nervous system and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. The energetic response to acute stress is determined by the nature and severity of the stressor, but a typical response to an acute stressor is inhibition of food intake, increased heat production and increased activity with sustained changes in body weight, behavior and HPA reactivity. The effect of chronic psychological stress is more variable. In humans, chronic stress may cause weight gain in restrained eaters who show increased HPA reactivity to acute stress. This phenotype is difficult to replicate in rodent models where chronic psychological stress is more likely to cause weight loss than weight gain. An exception may be hamsters subjected to repeated bouts of social defeat or foot-shock, but the data are limited. Recent reports on the food intake and body composition of subordinate members of group housed female monkeys indicate that these animals have a similar phenotype to human stress-induced eaters, but there are a limited number of investigators with access to the model. Few stress experiments focus on energy balance, but more information on the phenotype of both humans and animal models during and after exposure to acute or chronic stress may provide novel insight into mechanisms that normally control body weight. Copyright © 2014, American Journal of Physiology - Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology.AJP Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology 12/2014; 308(4):ajpregu.00361.2014. DOI:10.1152/ajpregu.00361.2014 · 3.53 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Behavioral profiles are influenced by both positive and negative experiences as well as the genetic disposition. Traditionally, accumulating adversity over lifetime is considered to predict increased anxiety-like behavior ("allostatic load"). The alternative "mismatch hypothesis" suggests increased levels of anxiety if the early environment differs from the later-life environment. Thus, there is a need for a whole-life history approach to gain a deeper understanding of how behavioral profiles are shaped. The aim of this study was to elucidate the effects of life history on the behavioral profile of mice varying in serotonin transporter (5-HTT) genotype, an established mouse model of increased anxiety-like behavior. For this purpose, mice grew up under either adverse or beneficial conditions during early phases of life. In adulthood, they were further subdivided so as to face a situation that either matched or mismatched the condition experienced so far, resulting in four different life histories. Subsequently, mice were tested for their anxiety-like and exploratory behavior. The main results were: (1) Life history profoundly modulated the behavioral profile. Surprisingly, mice that experienced early beneficial and later escapable adverse conditions showed less anxiety-like and more exploratory behavior compared to mice of other life histories. (2) Genotype significantly influenced the behavioral profile, with homozygous 5-HTT knockout mice displaying highest levels of anxiety-like and lowest levels of exploratory behavior. Our findings concerning life history indicate that the absence of adversity does not necessarily cause lower levels of anxiety than accumulating adversity. Rather, some adversity may be beneficial, particularly when following positive events. Altogether, we conclude that for an understanding of behavioral profiles, it is not sufficient to look at experiences during single phases of life, but the whole life history has to be considered.Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 03/2015; 9:47. DOI:10.3389/fnbeh.2015.00047 · 4.16 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Many animal and human studies show counterintuitive effects of environmental influences on energy balance and life span. Relatively low social and/or economic status seems to be associated with and produce greater adiposity, and reduced provision (e.g., caloric restriction) of food produces greater longevity. We suggest that a unifying factor may be perceptions of the environment as "energetically insecure" and inhospitable to reproduction, which may in turn provoke adiposity-increasing and longevity-extending mechanisms. We elaborate on two main aspects of resources (or the perceptions thereof) on body weight and longevity. We first discuss the effects of social dominance on body weight regulation in human and animal models. Second, we examine models of the interactions between caloric restriction, body composition, and longevity. Finally, we put forth a relational model of the influences of differing environmental cues on body composition and longevity.Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 07/2012; 1264(1):1-12. DOI:10.1111/j.1749-6632.2012.06672.x · 4.31 Impact Factor