Increased anxiety-like behavior during the post-stress period in mice exposed to repeated restraint stress

Horm Behav. 2006 Sep;50(3):489-95. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2006.06.007. Epub 2006 Jul 25.


Mice exposed to repeated restraint (RR: 2 h of restraint on each of 3 consecutive days) lose weight and do not return to the weight of non-stressed controls after restraint ends. These mice also exhibit an exaggerated endocrine response to mild stressors in the post-stress period. To determine if other aspects of the stress response are altered, NIH Swiss mice were repeatedly restrained then evaluated for anxiety-like behavior in various behavioral tests. Twelve days after the end of RR half of the control and RR mice were subjected to the mild stress of an intraperitoneal injection of saline before placement in an elevated plus maze. RR mice not subjected to mild stress showed the same level of anxiety as the control and RR mice exposed to mild stress. Placement in a light-dark box 20 days after restraint also indicated an increase in anxiety-like behavior in RR mice that had not been exposed to mild stress. In contrast, RR mice displayed no increase in anxiety-like behavior in the defensive withdrawal apparatus and the marble burying test 6 and 17 days, respectively, after restraint. RR mice released more corticosterone than non-restrained controls exposed to defensive withdrawal or EPM apparatus although baseline corticosterone remained at control levels. These results suggest that RR induces an exaggeration of both endocrine and behavioral responses to subsequent mild stressors. This post-stress hypersensitivity to mild stress may contribute to the sustained reduction in the body weight of RR animals.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Anxiety / blood
  • Anxiety / etiology*
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Corticosterone / blood*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Exploratory Behavior / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Restraint, Physical
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stress, Psychological / blood
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*


  • Corticosterone