Effects of repeated restraint stress on gastric motility in rats

Jun Zheng, Anthony Dobner, Reji Babygirija, Kirk Ludwig, Toku Takahashi
American Journal of Physiology. Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology 2009, 296 (5): R1358-65
In our daily life, individuals encounter with various types of stress. Accumulation of daily life stress (chronic stress) often causes gastrointestinal symptoms and functional gastrointestinal diseases. Although some can adapt toward chronic stress, the adaptation mechanism against chronic stress remains unknown. Although acute stress delays gastric emptying and alters upper gastrointestinal motility, effects of chronic stress on gastric motility still remain unclear. We investigated the effects of acute (single stress) and chronic (repeated stress for 5 consecutive days) stress on solid gastric emptying and interdigestive gastroduodenal contractions in rats. It is well established that acute restraint stress inhibits solid gastric emptying via central corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF). To investigate whether the sensitivity to CRF is altered following chronic stress, CRF was administered intracisternally. Ghrelin is involved in regulating gastric emptying and upper gastrointestinal motility in rodents. The changes in plasma active ghrelin levels and mRNA expression in the stomach were studied following chronic stress. To evaluate the effects of chronic stress on the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, plasma corticosterone levels were also measured. Delayed gastric emptying observed in acute stress was completely restored following chronic stress. Acute stress abolished gastric phase III-like contractions, without affecting duodenal phase III-like contractions in the interdigestive state. Impaired gastric phase III-like contractions were also restored following chronic stress. Plasma ghrelin levels and ghrelin mRNA expression were increased significantly after chronic stress. Intracisternal injection of CRF delayed gastric emptying and impaired gastric motility in rats who received chronic stress. Plasma corticosterone concentrations were no more elevated following chronic stress. The restored gastric emptying following chronic stress was antagonized by the administration of ghrelin receptor antagonists. The adaptation mechanism may involve upregulation of ghrelin expression and attenuation of the HPA axis. In contrast, the sensitivity to central CRF remained unaltered following chronic stress in rats.

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