In humans, associations between anxiety and nausea (including motion-induced) are reported but the underlying mechanisms are not known. Hypothermia is proposed to be an index of nausea in rats. Utilising hypothermia and heart rate as outcome measures we investigated the response to provocative motion in rats selectively bred for high (HAB) and low (LAB) anxiety-related behaviors and in non-selected (NAB) rats to further elucidate the potential relationship between hypothermia and nausea-like state. Core temperature and electrocardiogram were monitored in each group (n = 10 per group) using telemetry, with or without circular motion (40 min; 0.75 Hz) and vehicle or diazepam (2 mg/kg, i.p.) pre-treatment. Heart rate and time- and frequency-domain parameters of heart rate variability were derived from the electrocardiogram. There was no baseline difference in core temperature between the three groups (mean 38.0 ± 0.1 °C), but HAB animals had a significantly lower resting heart rate (330 ± 7 bpm) compared to LAB (402 ± 5 bpm) and NAB (401 ± 9 bpm). Animals in all groups exhibited hypothermia during motion (HAB: 36.3 ± 0.1 °C; NAB: 36.4 ± 0.1 °C; LAB: 34.9 ± 0.2 °C) with the magnitude (area under the curve, AUC) of the response during 40-min motion being greater in LAB compared to NAB and HAB rats, and this was also the case for the motion-induced bradycardia. Diazepam had minimal effects on baseline temperature and heart rate in all groups, but significantly reduced the hypothermia response (AUC) to motion in all groups by ~ 30%. Breeding for extremes in anxiety-related behavior unexpectedly selects animals with low trait anxiety that have enhanced bradycardia and hypothermic responses to motion; consequently, this animal model appears to be not suitable for exploring relationships between anxiety and autonomic correlates of nausea. Thermal and cardiovascular responses to motion were little different between HAB and NAB rats indicating that either hypothermia is not an index of a nausea-like state in rats, or that the positive correlation between anxiety and nausea demonstrated in humans does not exist in rats. The mechanism underlying the enhanced physiological responses in LAB requires more detailed study and may provide a novel model to investigate factors modulating motion sensitivity.
Autonomic changes induced by provocative motion in rats bred for high (HAB) and low (LAB) anxiety-related behavior: Paradoxical responses in LAB animals / Carnevali, L; Andrews, Pl; Neumann, Id; Nalivaiko, E; Sgoifo, A.. - In: PHYSIOLOGY & BEHAVIOR. - ISSN 0031-9384. - 167(2016), pp. 363-373. [10.1016/j.physbeh.2016.09.028]
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