Social stress of variable intensity: Physiological and behavioral consequences

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55 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Stress effects in humans depend on stress type, intensity, and duration. Animal models of social stress serve as good ways to mimic stress experienced in humans. However, the available stress paradigms pay little attention to the relationship between the intensity and the type of social stressors. The aim of the present work is to study behavioral and endocrinological consequences of social stress by varying the intensity and type of agonistic social contacts. Subjects were exposed to the attacks of an experienced fighter resident rat once a day for 4 consecutive days. Mild versus strong effects were studied by varying the length of daily confrontations (30 min vs. 4 h). The type of social confrontations was varied by ceasing or maintaining sensory contacts among contestants between encounters. Endocrinological variables were measured on the 5th day. Anxiety was assessed by means of the elevated plus-maze. The stress state depended on the length of daily encounters: 30-min encounters did not, whereas 4-h encounters did result in weight loss and chronic elevation of plasma corticosterone. The type of contacts between subjects and dominants also affected the resulting stress state: adrenal hypertrophy was obtained only when contacts between contestants were maintained between encounters. Although the mildest stress procedure (30-min encounters on 4 consecutive days) did not affect endocrinological variables, it resulted in subtle behavioral modifications that changed the anxiety-related effects of additional acute stressors. Thus, anxiety-related behavioral changes resulting from repeated mild stressors may be hidden factors that can have long-term consequences on the development of anxiety-like behavioral deficits. Results outline the necessity of studying the effects of social stressors of different intensities and different types.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-302
Number of pages6
JournalBrain Research Bulletin
Volume48
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1999

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Anxiety
Corticosterone
Hypertrophy
Weight Loss
Animal Models

Keywords

  • Anxiety
  • Behavior
  • Corticosterone
  • Model
  • Rat
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

Cite this

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title = "Social stress of variable intensity: Physiological and behavioral consequences",
abstract = "Stress effects in humans depend on stress type, intensity, and duration. Animal models of social stress serve as good ways to mimic stress experienced in humans. However, the available stress paradigms pay little attention to the relationship between the intensity and the type of social stressors. The aim of the present work is to study behavioral and endocrinological consequences of social stress by varying the intensity and type of agonistic social contacts. Subjects were exposed to the attacks of an experienced fighter resident rat once a day for 4 consecutive days. Mild versus strong effects were studied by varying the length of daily confrontations (30 min vs. 4 h). The type of social confrontations was varied by ceasing or maintaining sensory contacts among contestants between encounters. Endocrinological variables were measured on the 5th day. Anxiety was assessed by means of the elevated plus-maze. The stress state depended on the length of daily encounters: 30-min encounters did not, whereas 4-h encounters did result in weight loss and chronic elevation of plasma corticosterone. The type of contacts between subjects and dominants also affected the resulting stress state: adrenal hypertrophy was obtained only when contacts between contestants were maintained between encounters. Although the mildest stress procedure (30-min encounters on 4 consecutive days) did not affect endocrinological variables, it resulted in subtle behavioral modifications that changed the anxiety-related effects of additional acute stressors. Thus, anxiety-related behavioral changes resulting from repeated mild stressors may be hidden factors that can have long-term consequences on the development of anxiety-like behavioral deficits. Results outline the necessity of studying the effects of social stressors of different intensities and different types.",
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