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Stressful animal housing conditions and their potential effect on sympathetic neurotransmission in mice.

D'Arbe, M., Einstein, R. and Lavidis, N.A.

American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology, 282(5), R1422-R1428 (2002).

Although the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) plays a major role in mediating the peripheral stress response, due consideration is not usually given to the effects of prolonged stress on the SNS. The present study examined changes in neurotransmission in the SNS after exposure of mice (BALB/c) to stressful housing conditions. Focal extracellular recording of excitatory junction currents (EJCs) was used as a relative measure of neurotransmitter release from different regions of large surface areas of the mouse vas deferens. Mice were either group housed (control), isolation housed (social deprivation), group housed in a room containing rats (rat odor stress), or isolation housed in a room containing rats (concurrent stress). Social deprivation and concurrent stressors induced an increase of 30 and 335% in EJC amplitude, respectively. The success rate of recording EJCs from sets of varicosities in the concurrent stressor group was greater compared with all other groups. The present study has shown that some common animal housing conditions act as stressors and induce significant changes in sympathetic neurotransmission.