Psychosocial stress can induce chronic hypertension in normotensive strains of rats.
We report on five 6-month experiments during which five colonies of four male and four female rats were exposed to psychosocial stress. Monthly blood pressure measurements by a tail-cuff method showed a modest (10 mm Hg) increase in two studies using Sprague-Dawley rats. In two further studies using the more aggressive Long-Evans strain, terminal direct carotid arterial pressures were taken as well, and in one study the differences exceeded 20 mm Hg. A fifth study used the Wistar-Kyoto, hyperactive (WKHA) strain developed by Hendley, and no differences were observed. Heart and adrenal weights; adrenal catecholamine synthetic enzymes; and heart, aortic, and kidney histology were measured and showed significant changes, which for the most part paralleled blood pressure changes. Social instability and the associated blood pressure changes were made more severe by periodic mixing of males from different colonies. This had no effect on the peaceable WKHA rats, some effect on the Sprague-Dawley rats, and a severe effect on the Long-Evans rats. The WKHA rats failed to show blood pressure changes despite stress-induced increases in heart and adrenal weights. Thus, different types of psychosocial stress and different genetics combine to induce a variety of neuroendocrine changes, not all of which necessarily lead to increased blood pressure.
- Copyright © 1993 by American Heart Association