Does Chronically Administered Intermittent Restraint Stress (IRS) have Long-Lasting Effects on Fear Extinction and Depressive-Like Behavior?
The current study investigated whether intermittent restraint stress (IRS) would impair fear extinction learning and lead to increased anxiety and depressive- like behaviors and then be attenuated when IRS ends and a post- stress rest period ensues for 6 weeks. Young adult, male Sprague Dawley rats underwent restraint stress using wire mesh (6hr/daily) for five days with two days off before restraint resumed for three weeks for a total of 23 restraint days. The groups consisted of control (CON) with no restraint other than food and water restriction yoked to the restrained groups, stress immediate (STR-IMM), which were restrained then fear conditioned soon after the end of the IRS paradigm, and stress given a rest for 6 weeks before fear conditioning commenced (STR-R6). Rats were fear conditioned by pairing a 20 second tone with a footshock, then given extinction training for two days (15 tone only on each day). On the first day of extinction, all groups discriminated well on the first trial, but then as trials progressed, STR-R6 discriminated between tone and context less than did CON. On the second day of extinction, STR- IMM froze more to context in the earlier trials than compared to STR-R6 and CON. As trials progressed STR-IMM and STR-R6 froze more to context than compared to CON. Together, CON discriminated between tone and context better than did STR-IMM and STR-R6. Sucrose preference, novelty suppressed feeding, and elevated plus maze was performed after fear extinction was completed. No statistical differences were observed among groups for sucrose preference or novelty suppressed feeding. For the elevated plus maze, STR-IMM entered the open arms and the sum of both open and closed arms fewer than did STR- R6 and CON. We interpret the findings to suggest that the stress groups displayed increased hypervigilance and anxiety with STR-R6 exhibiting a unique phenotype than that of STR-IMM and CON.