Influence of diurnal phase on startle response in adult rats exposed to dexamethasone in utero

Tidsskriftartikel - 2011


Depression and pathological anxiety disorders are among the most prevalent neurological diseases in the world and can be precipitated and exacerbated by stress. Prenatal stress alters both behavioral and endocrine responses to stressful stimuli in later life. We have previously observed increased basal acoustic startle response (ASR) in Wistar rats exposed to stress or dexamethasone (DEX) in utero when tested during the light phase of the circadian rhythm, and decreased prepulse inhibition (PPI) in similar animals tested during the dark phase of the cycle. We speculated that this observation of increased basal startle might be influenced by diurnal phase. In the present study, adult female Sprague Dawley rats, stressed prenatally with DEX (200 µg/kg, gestational days 14-21) and postnatally by blood sampling under restraint, were tested for the ASR during both circadian phases (light and dark). Basal startle was increased in animals tested both during the light and the dark phases of the cycle. We hereby replicated our earlier findings in a new strain and laboratory, thus strengthening the validity of our model regarding prenatal stress effects on ASR in female offspring. Our results indicate that observation of increased basal ASR is not solely dependent on diurnal phase. We found no difference in hippocampal glucocorticoid and mineralcorticoid receptor expression between groups.


Kjær SL, Hougaard KS, Tasker R, MacDonald D, Rosenberg R, Elfving B, Wegener G. Influence of diurnal phase on startle response in adult rats exposed to dexamethasone in utero. Physiology & Behavior 2011;102(5):444-452.
doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2010.12.015

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