Kinn Rød AM, Milde AM, Grønli J, Jellestad FK, Sundberg H, Murison R
Stress 2012 Nov;15(6):658-70
We compared the consequences of two stressors, 'unnatural' inescapable footshocks (IFSs) and 'natural' social defeat (SD), on behaviours typically sensitive to stress [sucrose preference, open field (OF), elevated plus maze (EPM) and acoustic startle responses (ASRs)] and the association with pre-stressor plasma corticosterone concentration. After initial blood sampling, rats (n = 20 per group) were exposed to either 10 IFSs (1 mA intensity, 5 s duration each) or to 1 h SD (defeat by an aggressive resident male rat and further exposure but separated in a small cage) or to control procedures (handling). Rats were tested once for ASR (day 19), while the other behavioural tests were applied once weekly for 3 weeks. Both stress groups showed short-lasting lowered sucrose preference, and in the EPM they showed shorter total distance moved, shorter distance moved on open arms and less time on open arms compared to controls. In the OF test, IFS rats showed shorter total distance moved up to 2 weeks after stress. The SD group showed shorter total distance moved in the OF, which was only significant 2 weeks after stress. Low pre-stressor plasma corticosterone concentration was only associated with defecation (IFS rats) and latency to enter open arms in the EPM (all low corticosterone subgroups, n = 10 per subgroup). SD rats with high initial plasma corticosterone concentration showed enhanced ASR compared to the other subgroups with high initial plasma corticosterone concentration (n = 9 per subgroup). The results indicate that footshock and SD, while generally leading to an increase in anxiety behaviours, represent qualitatively different stressors.