CIE Spotlight: Acute Restraint Stress Alters Wheel-Running Behavior Immediately Following Stress and up to 20 Hours Later in House Mice

Ondi C.

Ondi C.

Authors: Malisch, Jessica L.; deWolski, Karen; Meek, Thomas H.; Acosta, Wendy; Middleton, Kevin M.; Crino, Ondi L.; Garland, Theodore, Jr.


Brief summary of the paper: In vertebrates, acute stressors—although short in duration—can influence physiology and behavior over a longer time course, which might have important ramifications under natural conditions. In laboratory rats, for example, acute stress has been shown to increase anxiogenic behaviors for days after a stressor.

In this study, we quantified voluntary wheel-running behavior for 22 h following a restraint stress and glucocorticoid levels 24 h postrestraint. We utilized mice from four replicate lines that have been selectively bred for high voluntary wheel-running activity (HR mice) for 60 generations and their nonselected control (C) lines to examine potential interactions between exercise propensity and sensitivity to stress.

Following 6 d of wheel access on a 12L∶12D photo cycle (0700–1900 hours, as during the routine selective breeding protocol), 80 mice were physically restrained for 40 min, beginning at 1400 hours, while another 80 were left undisturbed. Relative to unrestrained mice, wheel running increased for both HR and C mice during the first hour postrestraint (P < 0.0001) but did not differ 2 or 3 h postrestraint.

Wheel running was also examined at four distinct phases of the photoperiod. Running in the period of 1600–1840 hours was unaffected by restraint stress and did not differ statistically between HR and C mice. During the period of peak wheel running (1920–0140 hours), restrained mice tended to run fewer revolutions (−11%; two-tailed P = 0.0733), while HR mice ran 473% more than C (P = 0.0008), with no restraint × line type interaction.

Wheel running declined for all mice in the latter part of the scotophase (0140–0600 hours), restraint had no statistical effect on wheel running, but HR again ran more than C (+467%; P = 0.0122). Finally, during the start of the photophase (0720–1200 hours), restraint increased running by an average of 53% (P = 0.0443) in both line types, but HR and C mice did not differ statistically. Mice from HR lines had statistically higher plasma corticosterone concentrations than C mice, with no statistical effect of restraint and no interaction between line type and restraint.

Overall, these results indicate that acute stress can affect locomotor activity (or activity patterns) for many hours, with the most prominent effect being an increase in activity during a period of typical inactivity at the start of the photophase, 15–20 h poststressor.