Respiratory patterns represent a promising physiological index for assessing emotional states in preclinical studies. Since disturbed emotional regulation may lead to forms of excessive aggressiveness, in this study we investigated the hypothesis that rats that differ largely in their level of aggressive behavior display matching alterations in respiration. Respiration was recorded in male high-aggressive (HA, n=8) and non-aggressive (NA, n=8) Wild-type Groningen rats using whole-body plethysmography. Subsequently, anxiety-related behaviors were evaluated in the elevated plus maze and social avoidance-approach tests. During respiratory testing, HA rats showed elevated basal respiratory rate, reduced sniffing, exaggerated tachypnoeic response to an acoustic stimulus and a larger incidence of sighs. In addition, HA rats spent less time in the open arms of the plus maze and displayed higher levels of social avoidance behavior compared to NA rats. These findings indicate that HA rats are characterized by alterations in respiratory functioning and behavior that are overall indicative of an anxiety-like phenotype.
In humans, there is a documented association between anxiety disorders and cardiovascular disease. Putative underlying mechanisms may include an impairment of the autonomic nervous system control of cardiac function. The primary objective of the present study was to characterize cardiac autonomic modulation and susceptibility to arrhythmias in genetic lines of rats that differ largely in their anxiety level. To reach this goal, electrocardiographic recordings were performed in high-anxiety behavior (HAB, n=10) and low-anxiety behavior (LAB, n=10) rats at rest, during stressful stimuli and under autonomic pharmacological manipulations, and analyzed by means of time- and frequency-domain indexes of heart rate variability. During resting conditions, HAB rats displayed a reduced heart rate variability, mostly in terms of lower parasympathetic (vagal) modulation compared to LAB rats. In HAB rats, this relatively low cardiac vagal control was associated with smaller heart rate responsiveness to acute stressors compared to LAB counterparts. In addition, beta-adrenergic pharmacological stimulation induced a larger incidence of ventricular tachyarrhythmias in HABs compared to LABs. At sacrifice, a moderate increase in heart-body weight ratio was observed in HAB rats. We conclude that high levels of anxiety-related behavior in rats are associated with signs of i) impaired autonomic modulation of heart rate (low vagally-mediated heart rate variability), ii) poor adaptive heart rate responsiveness to stressful stimuli, iii) increased arrhythmia susceptibility, and iv) cardiac hypertrophy. These results highlight the utility of the HAB/LAB model for investigating the mechanistic basis of the comorbidity between anxiety disorders and cardiovascular disease.
Advanced age alone appears to be a risk factor for increased susceptibility to cardiac arrhythmias. We previously observed in the aged rat heart that sinus rhythm ventricular activation is delayed and characterized by abnormal epicardial patterns although conduction velocity is normal. While these findings relate to an advanced stage of aging, it is not yet known when and how ventricular electrical impairment originates and which is the underlying substrate. To address these points, we performed continuous telemetry ECG recordings in freely moving rats over a six-month period to monitor ECG waveform changes, heart rate variability and the incidence of cardiac arrhythmias. At the end of the study, we performed in-vivo multiple lead epicardial recordings and histopathology of cardiac tissue. We found that the duration of ECG waves and intervals gradually increased and heart rate variability gradually decreased with age. Moreover, the incidence of cardiac arrhythmias gradually increased, with atrial arrhythmias exceeding ventricular arrhythmias. Epicardial multiple lead recordings confirmed abnormalities in ventricular activation patterns, likely attributable to distal conducting system dysfunctions. Microscopic analysis of aged heart specimens revealed multifocal connective tissue deposition and perinuclear myocytolysis in the atria. Our results demonstrate that aging gradually modifies the terminal part of the specialized cardiac conducting system, creating a substrate for increased arrhythmogenesis. These findings may open new therapeutic options in the management of cardiac arrhythmias in the elderly population.
In humans, variants of the fat mass and obesity associated (FTO) gene have recently been associated with obesity. However, the physiological function of FTO is not well defined. Previous investigations in mice have linked FTO deficiency to growth retardation, loss of white adipose tissue, increased energy metabolism and enhanced systemic sympathetic activation. In this study we investigated for the first time the effects of global knockout of the mouse FTO gene on cardiac function and its autonomic neural regulation. ECG recordings were acquired via radiotelemetry in homozygous knockout (n?=?12) and wild-type (n?=?8) mice during resting and stress conditions, and analyzed by means of time- and frequency-domain indexes of heart rate variability. In the same animals, cardiac electrophysiological properties (assessed by epicardial mapping) and structural characteristics were investigated. Our data indicate that FTO knockout mice were characterized by (i) higher heart rate values during resting and stress conditions, (ii) heart rate variability changes (increased LF to HF ratio), (iii) larger vulnerability to stress-induced tachyarrhythmias, (iv) altered ventricular repolarization, and (v) cardiac hypertrophy compared to wild-type counterparts. We conclude that FTO deficiency in mice leads to an imbalance of the autonomic neural modulation of cardiac function in the sympathetic direction and to a potentially proarrhythmic remodeling of electrical and structural properties of the heart.
In humans, there are large individual differences in the levels of vagal modulation of resting heart rate (HR). High levels are a recognized index of cardiac health, whereas low levels are considered an important risk factor for cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Several factors are thought to contribute significantly to this inter-individual variability. While regular physical exercise seems to induce an increase in resting vagal tone, chronic life stress, and psychosocial factors such as negative moods and personality traits appear associated with vagal withdrawal. Preclinical research has been attempting to clarify such relationships and to provide insights into the neurobiological mechanisms underlying vagal tone impairment/enhancement. This paper focuses on rat studies that have explored the effects of stress, psychosocial factors and physical exercise on vagal modulation of resting HR. Results are discussed with regard to: (i) individual differences in resting vagal tone, cardiac stress reactivity and arrhythmia vulnerability; (ii) elucidation of the neurobiological determinants of resting vagal tone.
The existence of a close relationship between psychosocial factors and cardiovascular morbidity is not just a hypothesis anymore. Research on humans has been attempting to unravel the significance of this association by investigating psychological and social characteristics in relation to cardiovascular health. However, this research is limited by the difficulty to control and standardize for the individual social history, the impossibility to apply psychosocial stress stimuli for mere experimental purposes, as well as the long time span of cardiovascular pathogenesis in humans. Animal studies controlling for social environment and adverse social episodes since weaning allow for partially overcoming these limitations. The aim of this review is to provide an up-to-date reference of the experimental evidence so far collected on the link between psychosocial factors and cardiovascular (dys-)function in rodent species, with special emphasis on social conflict, aggressiveness and negative mood states, which have been significantly associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Personality characteristics, e.g. aggressiveness, have long been associated with an increased risk of cardiac disease. However, the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. In this study we used a rodent model for characterizing cardiac autonomic modulation in rats that differ widely in their level of aggressive behavior. To reach this goal, high-aggressive (HA, n?=?10) and non-aggressive (NA, n?=?10) rats were selected from a population (n?=?121) of adult male Wild-type Groningen rats on the basis of their latency time to attack (ALT, s) a male intruder in a resident-intruder test lasting 600 s. In order to obtain information on their cardiac autonomic modulation, ECG recordings were subsequently obtained via radiotelemetry at rest, during stressful stimuli and under autonomic pharmacological manipulations, and analyzed by means of time- and frequency-domain indexes of heart rate variability. During resting conditions, HA rats (ALT<90 s) displayed reduced heart rate variability, mostly in terms of lower vagal modulation compared to NA rats (ALT>600 s). Exposure to stressful stimuli (i.e. restraint and psychosocial stress) provoked similar tachycardic responses between the two groups. However, under stress conditions HA rats displayed a reduced vagal antagonism and an increased incidence of tachyarrhythmias compared to NA rats. In addition, beta-adrenergic pharmacological stimulation induced a much larger incidence of ventricular tachyarrhythmias in HA rats compared to NA counterparts. These findings are consistent with the view that high levels of aggressive behavior in rats are associated to signs of cardiac autonomic impairment and increased arrhythmogenic susceptibility that may predict vulnerability to cardiac morbidity and mortality.
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.
In humans, chronic stressors have long been recognized as potential causes for cardiac dysregulation. Despite this, the underlying mechanistic links responsible for this association are still poorly understood. The purpose of this study was to determine whether exposure to a paradigm of subchronic stress can provoke enduring changes on the heart rate of experimental rats and, if so, to reveal the autonomic and neural mechanisms that mediate these effects. The study was conducted on adult male Sprague-Dawley rats instrumented for telemetric recording of heart rate and locomotor activity. Animals were submitted to a subchronic stress protocol, consisting of a 1-h foot shock session on five consecutive days. Heart rate and locomotor activity were recorded continuously for 3 days before and for 6 days after the subchronic stress period. Subchronic foot shock produced significant and enduring reduction in heart rate both during the dark/active [?= -23 ± 3 beats per minute (bpm)] and light/inactive (?= -20 ± 3 bpm) phases of the circadian cycle, and a reduction in locomotor activity during the dark/active phase [?= -54 ± 6 counts per hour (cph)]. The bradycardic effect of subchronic stress was not related to a reduced locomotion. Selective sympathetic (atenolol) and vagal (methyl-scopolamine) blockades were performed to reveal which autonomic component was responsible for this effect. We found that the fall in heart rate persisted after subchronic stress in animals treated with atenolol (active phase ?= -16 ± 3 bpm, inactive phase ?= -19 ± 2 bpm), whereas vagal blockade with scopolamine transiently prevented this effect, suggesting that the bradycardia following subchronic stress was predominantly vagally mediated. Fluoxetine (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) and metyrapone (inhibitor of corticosterone synthesis) treatments did not affect heart rate changes but prevented the reduction in locomotion. We conclude that subchronic stress exposure in rats reduces heart rate via a rebound in vagal activation and that this effect is serotonin- and corticosterone-independent.
Despite a well-documented association between stress and depression with cardiac morbidity and mortality, there is no satisfactory explanation for the mechanisms linking affective and cardiac disorders. This study investigated cardiac electrophysiological properties in an animal model of depression.
In humans, chronic stressors have long been linked to cardiac morbidity. Altered serotonergic neurotransmission may represent a crucial pathophysiological mechanism mediating stress-induced cardiac disturbances. Here, we evaluated the physiological role of serotonin (5-HT) 1A receptors in the autonomic regulation of cardiac function under acute and chronic stress conditions, using 5-HT(1A) receptor knockout mice (KOs). When exposed to acute stressors, KO mice displayed a higher tachycardic stress response and a larger reduction of vagal modulation of heart rate than wild type counterparts (WTs). During a protocol of chronic psychosocial stress, 6 out of 22 (27%) KOs died from cardiac arrest. Close to death, they displayed a severe bradycardia, a lengthening of cardiac interval (P wave, PQ and QRS) duration, a notched QRS complex and a profound hypothermia. In the same period, the remaining knockouts exhibited higher values of heart rate than WTs during both light and dark phases of the diurnal rhythm. At sacrifice, KO mice showed a larger expression of cardiac muscarinic receptors (M2), whereas they did not differ for gross cardiac anatomy and the amount of myocardial fibrosis compared to WTs. This study demonstrates that chronic genetic loss of 5-HT(1A) receptors is detrimental for cardiovascular health, by intensifying acute, stress-induced heart rate rises and increasing the susceptibility to sudden cardiac death in mice undergoing chronic stress.
Related JoVE Video
Journal of Visualized Experiments
What is Visualize?
JoVE Visualize is a tool created to match the last 5 years of PubMed publications to methods in JoVE's video library.
How does it work?
We use abstracts found on PubMed and match them to JoVE videos to create a list of 10 to 30 related methods videos.
Video X seems to be unrelated to Abstract Y...
In developing our video relationships, we compare around 5 million PubMed articles to our library of over 4,500 methods videos. In some cases the language used in the PubMed abstracts makes matching that content to a JoVE video difficult. In other cases, there happens not to be any content in our video library that is relevant to the topic of a given abstract. In these cases, our algorithms are trying their best to display videos with relevant content, which can sometimes result in matched videos with only a slight relation.