Stress-induced hyperthermia and anxiety: pharmacological validation

Eur J Pharmacol. 2003 Feb 28;463(1-3):117-32. doi: 10.1016/s0014-2999(03)01326-8.


When mammals, including man, are confronted with a stressful event, their core body temperature rises, stress-induced hyperthermia. In mice, the stress-induced hyperthermia procedure has been developed to measure antistress or anxiolytic-like effects of psychoactive drugs. Group-housed and singly housed versions of the stress-induced hyperthermia generate comparable results. Because the number of animals needed to perform an experiment is much lower in the singly housed versus the group-housed procedure, the former is the test of choice for pharmacological testing. A typical stress-induced hyperthermia test starts with an injection 60 min before the first rectal temperature measurement (T(1)), followed by a second temperature measurement (T(2)) 10-15 min later. The difference DeltaT (=T(2)-T(1)) is the stress-induced hyperthermia. The procedure also measures the intrinsic activity of drugs on the basal body temperature and DeltaT is relatively independent from the intrinsic temperature effects of drugs. Anxiolytic drugs (benzodiazepines, 5-HT(1A) receptor agonists, alcohol) reduce DeltaT suggestive of anxiolytic-like effects. Because the parameter measured for anxiety in the stress-induced hyperthermia procedure is not dependent on locomotor activity, like in almost all other anxiety tests, the stress-induced hyperthermia procedure is an attractive addition to tests in the anxiety field. Because the stress-induced hyperthermia is also present with a comparable pharmacological profile in females, this procedure has a wide species and gender validity. The procedure was applied in various genetically modified mice [5-HT(1A) and 5-HT(1B) receptor knockout (KO) mice and corticotropin-releasing hormone overexpressing (CRH-OE) mice] to study phenotypic influences of the various mutations on aspects of anxiety. The stress-induced hyperthermia test in singly housed male and female mice appears a useful and extremely simple test to measure effects of drugs on certain aspects of anxiety or to help to determine phenotypic differences in mutant mice.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / pharmacology
  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Anxiety / physiopathology
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Body Temperature / drug effects
  • Endocrine System / drug effects
  • Endocrine System / physiopathology
  • Fever / etiology
  • Fever / physiopathology
  • Fever / psychology*
  • Mice
  • Models, Animal
  • Receptors, Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone / drug effects
  • Receptors, Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone / metabolism
  • Receptors, Serotonin / drug effects
  • Stress, Physiological / complications
  • Stress, Physiological / physiopathology
  • Stress, Physiological / psychology*


  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Receptors, Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone
  • Receptors, Serotonin