Neonatal maternal separation induces visceral hyperalgesia before and after stress in male rats. This study compares the effects on sensitivity to rectal distension in adult male and female rats, using two protocols of deprivation. Between postnatal days 1 and 14, maternal deprivation was performed for 2 h per day according to a protocol of type M (removal of all pups from home cage) or type P (separation of half of littermates). Visceral sensitivity was assessed at 12 weeks of age by the number of abdominal contractions induced by rectal distension before and after restraint stress. Calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) was identified in the rectal wall by immunohistochemistry. In basal conditions, both separation protocols induced hyperalgesia, that was greater after type M than type P, and in females than in males for type P separation. Acute restraint stress induced hyperalgesia in control females only, and this effect was similarly enhanced by both type P and M separation. No difference was found between controls and deprived rats in rectal CGRP immunoreactivity which was greater in females and increased after rectal distension. These results indicate that long-term visceral hyperalgesia depends upon the type of maternal deprivation and that females are more sensitive than males.
- Gender difference
- Neonatal stress
- Visceral sensitivity
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems