The calm mouse: an animal model of stress reduction.

Blake Gurfein, Andrew Stamm
Mol. Med.. 2012-01-01; 18(4): 1
DOI: 10.2119/molmed.2012.00053

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1. Mol Med. 2012 May 9;18:606-17. doi: 10.2119/molmed.2012.00053.

The calm mouse: an animal model of stress reduction.

Gurfein BT(1), Stamm AW, Bacchetti P, Dallman MF, Nadkarni NA, Milush JM, Touma
C, Palme R, Di Borgo CP, Fromentin G, Lown-Hecht R, Konsman JP, Acree M,
Premenko-Lanier M, Darcel N, Hecht FM, Nixon DF.

Author information:
(1)Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, University of California, San
Francisco, California, United States of America.

Chronic stress is associated with negative health outcomes and is linked with
neuroendocrine changes, deleterious effects on innate and adaptive immunity, and
central nervous system neuropathology. Although stress management is commonly
advocated clinically, there is insufficient mechanistic understanding of how
decreasing stress affects disease pathogenesis. Therefore, we have developed a
“calm mouse model” with caging enhancements designed to reduce murine stress.
Male BALB/c mice were divided into four groups: control (Cntl), standard caging;
calm (Calm), large caging to reduce animal density, a cardboard nest box for
shelter, paper nesting material to promote innate nesting behavior, and a
polycarbonate tube to mimic tunneling; control exercise (Cntl Ex), standard
caging with a running wheel, known to reduce stress; and calm exercise (Calm Ex),
calm caging with a running wheel. Calm, Cntl Ex and Calm Ex animals exhibited
significantly less corticosterone production than Cntl animals. We also observed
changes in spleen mass, and in vitro splenocyte studies demonstrated that Calm Ex
animals had innate and adaptive immune responses that were more sensitive to
acute handling stress than those in Cntl. Calm animals gained greater body mass
than Cntl, although they had similar food intake, and we also observed changes in
body composition, using magnetic resonance imaging. Together, our results suggest
that the Calm mouse model represents a promising approach to studying the
biological effects of stress reduction in the context of health and in
conjunction with existing disease models.

DOI: 10.2119/molmed.2012.00053
PMCID: PMC3388136
PMID: 22398685 [Indexed for MEDLINE]

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