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Open Access Short Report

Application of a naturalistic psychogenic stressor in periadolescent mice: effect on serum corticosterone levels differs by strain but not sex

Christine H Kapelewski, Jeanette M Bennett, Sonia A Cavigelli and Laura C Klein*

Author Affiliations

Biobehavioral Health Department, 315 East Health and Human Development Building, The Pennsylvania State University University Park, PA, USA

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BMC Research Notes 2010, 3:170  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-3-170

Published: 17 June 2010

Abstract

Background

As a first step in determining whether psychogenic stressors might be incorporated into periadolescent mouse models of stress, we evaluated whether a commonly used psychogenic stressor, exposure to red fox urine, alters serum corticosterone levels in periadolescent C57BL/6J and DBA/2J mice.

Findings

In a 1-day experiment, forty-eight 38-day-old C57BL/6J (N = 12 males; N = 12 females) and DBA/2J (N = 12 males; N = 12 females) mice were exposed to 10-min of red fox urine via cotton ball (N = 12 C57BL/6J mice; N = 12 DBA/2J mice) or to a non-saturated cotton ball (N = 12 C57BL/6J mice; N = 12 DBA/2J mice). All mice were sacrificed 15-min after cotton ball exposure and serum was collected for corticosterone assessment. Overall, there was a main effect for strain such that C57BL/6J male and female mice displayed higher corticosterone levels than did male and female DBA/2J mice. There were no main effects for sex or odor exposure. However, there was a significant strain by odor exposure interaction, whereby, within odor-exposed mice, DBA/2J mice displayed lower corticosterone levels (ng/mL) compared to C57BL/6J mice, regardless of sex. Further, among DBA/2J mice, predator odor exposure reduced corticosterone levels compared to no odor exposure.

Conclusions

Findings indicate that mouse strain, but not sex, may play an important role in the efficacy of a predator odor among periadolescent mice.