The amygdala central nucleus is required for acute stress-induced bladder hyperalgesia in a rat visceral pain model

Academic Article


  • Chronic stress has been implicated in the pathogenesis of chronic visceral pain conditions, such as interstitial cystitis (IC), and bouts of acute stress exacerbate clinical urological pain. Studies using animal models have shown that exposure to chronic footshock stress augments reflex responses to urinary bladder distension (UBD) in animal models, however acute effects in animal models are largely unknown, as are the central nervous system mechanisms of stress-related increases in nociception. The amygdala is a salient structure for integration of sensory and cognitive/emotional factors. The present study determined the role of the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA) in stress-related bladder hypersensitivity. We examined the effects of CeA manipulations (lesions and chemical stimulation) on visceromotor responses (abdominal muscle contractions) to UBD in adult, female Sprague-Dawley rats. We report that acute footshock stress produces bladder hyperalgesia that can be prevented by bilateral CeA lesions, despite no effect of lesions on baseline somatic sensation, as indicated by flinch/jump thresholds to electrical shock. Further, acute glucocorticoid stimulation of the CeA recapitulated stress-induced hyperalgesia. Of note is that CeA lesions, but not chemical stimulation, significantly affected HPA axis activation, as indicated by measurements of circulating corticosterone. Our findings conclusively show that the CeA is necessary for the generation of bladder hyperalgesia in response to acute stress. The CeA may play multiple stress-related roles in nociceptive modulation, i.e., via direct facilitation of the HPA axis during acute stress, or via modulation of other systems that augment acute stress responsiveness.
  • Published In

  • Brain Research  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Deberry JJ; Robbins MT; Ness TJ
  • Start Page

  • 77
  • End Page

  • 85
  • Volume

  • 1606