Animal Model of Acute Stress

Our laboratory has been studying the behavioral and physiological consequences of exposure to a well-characterized animal model of stress: inescapable tailshock. This model of stress involves exposing rats to random, intermittent (average intertrial interval 60s), inescapable tail-shocks (100,1.6mA, 5s), administered when the rats are lightly restrained in Plexiglas tubes. The use of this stressor is important for several reasons. First, a great deal is known about the behavioral, neural, endocrine, and immunological consequences of exposure to this acute stressor (Watkins, 1990; Fleshner, 1993; Laudenslager, 1994; Maier et al., 1994; Brennan, 1995; Fleshner et al., 1995a, 1995b, 1995c; Brennan, 1996; Deak, 1997; Deak et al., 1997; Fleshner et al., 1998; Maier, 1998; Milligan et al., 1998; Nguyen et al., 1998a, 1998b; Deak, 1999; O'Conner, 1999; Nguyen et al., 2000; Moraska and Fleshner, 2001; Campisi et al., 2002; Fleshner et al., 2002; Moraska et al., 2002; Campisi and Fleshner, 2003; Campisi et al., 2003b, 2003c; Gazda et al., 2003; Greenwood et al., 2003a, 2003b; Day et al., 2004). Second, the effects of acute stressor exposure on immune function are stressor dependent (Ader, 1991; Plotnikoff, 1991), therefore the use of a consistent stressor is necessary to advance our understanding of the mechanism responsible for stress-induced immunomodulation. Third, tailshock stress allows the administration of a discrete, consistent, and quantifiable stressor that does not produce physical injury.

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