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Stress. 2010 Jul;13(4):343-54. doi: 10.3109/10253891003664166.

Repeated psychological stress-induced alterations of visceral sensitivity and colonic motor functions in mice: influence of surgery and postoperative single housing on visceromotor responses.

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  • 1Division of Digestive Diseases, Department of Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and CURE: Digestive Diseases Research Center and Center for Neurobiology of Stress, Los Angeles, CA, 90073, USA.


Visceral pain modulation by chronic stress in mice has been little studied. Electromyography (EMG) recording of abdominal muscle contractions, as a proxy to the visceromotor response (VMR), requires electrode implantation and post-surgical single housing (SH) which could affect the VMR to stress. To test this hypothesis, male mice had electrode implantation surgery (S) plus SH, or no surgery and were group housed (NS-GH) or single housed (NS-SH) and exposed to either water avoidance stress (WAS, 1 h/day) or left undisturbed in their home cages for 10 days. The VMR to phasic ascending colorectal distension (CRD) was assessed before (basal) and 24 h after 10 days of WAS or no stress using a surgery-free method of intraluminal colonic pressure (ICP) recording (solid-state manometry). WAS heightened significantly the VMR to CRD at 30, 45, and 60 mmHg in S-SH vs. NS-GH, but not compared to NS-SH conscious mice. Compared to basal CRD, WAS increased VMR at 60 mmHg in the S-SH group and decreased it at 30-60 mmHg in NS-GH mice, while having no effect in NS-SH mice. The average defecation during the hour of repeated WAS over 10 days was 1.9 and 2.4 fold greater in S-SH vs. NS-GH and NS-SH mice, respectively. These data indicate that the combination of S-SH required for VMR monitoring with EMG is an important component of repeated WAS-induced post-stress visceral hypersensitivity and defecation in mice.

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