In humans, there is unequivocal evidence of an association between anxiety states and altered respiratory function. Despite this, the link between anxiety and respiration has been poorly evaluated in experimental animals. The primary objective of the present study was to investigate the hypothesis that genetic lines of rats that differ largely in their anxiety level would display matching alterations in respiration. To reach this goal, respiration was recorded in high-anxiety behavior (HAB, n = 10) and low-anxiety behavior (LAB, n = 10) male rats using whole-body plethysmography. In resting state, respiratory rate was higher in HABs (85±2 cycles per minute, cpm) than LABs (67±2 cpm, p<0.05). During initial testing into the plethysmograph and during a restraint test, HAB rats spent less time at high-frequency sniffing compared to LAB rats. In addition, HAB rats did not habituate in terms of respiratory response to repetitive acoustic stressful stimuli. Finally, HAB rats exhibited a larger incidence of sighs during free exploration of the plethysmograph and under stress conditions. We conclude that: i) HAB rats showed respiratory changes (elevated resting respiratory rate, reduced sniffing in novel environment, increased incidence of sighs, and no habituation of the respiratory response to repetitive stimuli) that resemble those observed in anxious and panic patients, and ii) respiratory patterns may represent a promising way for assessing anxiety states in preclinical studies.
Different patterns of respiration in rat lines selectively bred for high or low anxiety / Carnevali L; Sgoifo A; Trombini M; Landgraf R; Neumann ID; Nalivaiko E. - In: PLOS ONE. - ISSN 1932-6203. - 8:5(2013), p. e64519. [10.1371/journal.pone.0064519]