Long-term colonic hypersensitivity in adult rats induced by neonatal unpredictable vs predictable shock

Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2007 Sep;19(9):761-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2982.2007.00955.x.


Our goal was to examine the relationship between early life trauma and the development of visceral hypersensitivity in later life in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Rat pups underwent neonatal conditioning: (i) paired odour-shock, where odour is a predictable shock signal, (ii) unpaired odour-shock, where odour is an unpredictable shock signal or (iii) control odour-only with odour presentations and handling without shock. At maturity, colorectal sensitivity was measured as a visceromotor behavioural response. In adulthood, colorectal distension (CRD) induced a pressure-dependent increase in the number of abdominal muscle contractions all three experimental groups. However, compared to animals that had received control odour-only presentations in infancy, there was an attenuated response to CRD in animals previously exposed to neonatal predictable shock pups and an exaggerated response in the animals previously exposed to neonatal unpredictable shock. Adult responses to CRD were altered by infant experience with shock trauma. However, depending on the context of that early life trauma, there are major differences between the long-term effects of that early life trauma on colonic sensitivity compared to controls. These results strengthen the link between early life trauma and adult IBS, and suggest that unpredictable trauma is a critical factor for later life disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Conditioning, Classical
  • Fear / physiology
  • Female
  • Hyperalgesia / physiopathology*
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Manometry
  • Odorants
  • Rats
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology*
  • Time Factors