Stress-induced hyperthermia and anxiety: Pharmacological validation

Berend Olivier*, Theo Zethof, Tommy Pattij, Meg Van Boogaert, Ruud Van Oorschot, Christina Leahy, Ronald Oosting, Arjan Bouwknecht, Jan Veening, Jan Van Der Gugten, Lucianne Groenink

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


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 (T1), followed by a second temperature measurement (T2) 10-15 min later. The difference ΔT (=T2-T1) is the stress-induced hyperthermia. The procedure also measures the intrinsic activity of drugs on the basal body temperature and ΔT is relatively independent from the intrinsic temperature effects of drugs. Anxiolytic drugs (benzodiazepines, 5-HT1A receptor agonists, alcohol) reduce ΔT 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-HT1A and 5-HT1B 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-132
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Journal of Pharmacology
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2003

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