ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

心理学报 ›› 2022, Vol. 54 ›› Issue (6): 604-612.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2022.00604

• 研究报告 • 上一篇    下一篇


周萍1, 肖华1, 李勇辉2,3, 董昕文2()   

  1. 1湖南师范大学教育科学学院心理学系, 长沙 410018
    2中国科学院心理研究所心理健康重点实验室, 北京 100101
    3中国科学院大学心理学系, 北京 100049
  • 收稿日期:2021-08-17 发布日期:2022-04-26 出版日期:2022-06-25
  • 通讯作者: 董昕文
  • 基金资助:

Sustained hyperarousal induced by acute stress in tryptophan-hydroxylase-2 genetic deficient male mice

ZHOU Ping1, XIAO Hua1, LI Yonghui2,3, DONG Xinwen2()   

  1. 1Department of Psychology, Educational Science Faculty, Hunan Normal University, Changsha, Hunan 410081, China
    2CAS Key Laboratory of Mental Health, Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
    3Department of Psychology, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2021-08-17 Online:2022-04-26 Published:2022-06-25
  • Contact: DONG Xinwen


剧烈的应激刺激会引起持续的高唤醒状态, 是多种应激障碍的核心症状, 并推进其他症状的发生发展。本研究关注5-羟色胺在应激诱发高唤醒的发生、发展中的作用, 通过测量听觉惊吓反射水平反映高唤醒状态, 考察色氨酸羟化酶-2基因缺陷小鼠在天敌或电击应激前后高唤醒的变化。研究发现, 雄性基因缺陷小鼠在应激后出现持续一周以上的高唤醒表现, 而野生型小鼠高唤醒状态很快恢复。结果提示, 基因缺陷引起的5-羟色胺降低可能是强应激诱发的持续高唤醒的易感因素。

关键词: 高唤醒, 5-羟色胺, 色氨酸羟化酶-2, 听觉惊吓反射


Severe stress is one of the major external triggers of emotion-related mental disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Stress-induced sustained hyperarousal state is not only a core symptom but also a contributor to other symptoms such as sleep disturbance and negative mood. Serotonin, or 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT), is a monoamine neurotransmitter that regulates emotional response. In addition, the 5-HT system is the target for pharmacological treatment such as selective-serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) for major depressive disorder, PTSD, and other emotional disorders. However, it remains unknown whether serotonin is involved in the hyperarousal state caused by severe stress, as well as the mechanism by which genetic polymorphism in serotonin regulation contributes to the vulnerability of stress-related psychiatric disorders. Tryptophan-hydroxylase-2 (Tph2) is a serotonin synthesizing enzyme that converts tryptophan to 5-hydroxytryptophan in the brain. A genetic deficiency in the expression of Tph2 may lead to a lower level of serotonin in the brain. The present study focused on the role of serotonin in the development of stress-induced hyperarousal, investigating the behavioral effect of Tph2 gene-deficiency after severe stress in a mice model.
Mice lacking Tph2 (Tph2-/-) in the brain have a vitally low level of serotonin and a bad health condition, so we used heterozygous Tph2-deficient mice (Tph2+/-) which have been shown to have a mild low level of serotonin in the brain. We measured the auditory startle reflex as an indicator of arousal level at different time points after predator-exposure stress or footshock stress in both male and female Tph2+/- and wild-type mice. The predator-exposure stress was to exposure a mouse to a cat for 5 minutes with a trained experimenter protecting the mouse from direct attack from the cat. The footshock stress was to exposure a mouse to a series of footshock (1.5 mA × 5s × 5, inter-shock interval 60 ~ 120 s) in a shock chamber. Then we measured the auditory startle reflex at 1-, 2-, 10-, and 18-day post-stress. For each startle test session, a total of 30 white noise stimuli were presented to the mice in a sound-isolated chamber (90 dB, 100 dB, 110 dB, ten stimuli for each level).
The results showed that the Tph2+/- male mice had a higher level of startle than the non-stressed group at 1, 2, and 10 days after footshock stress, indicating a sustained hyperarousal. However, wild-type male mice only had an increased startle response on the day after the footshock stress. For mice with predator exposure stress, both Tph2+/- male mice and wild-type male mice showed an increased startle response on the first day after the predator stress, but then returned to the same level as the non-stressed mice. We also observed a sex difference in mice’s startle response that the female mice had a lower level of startle amplitude than that of male mice at baseline test before stress. In addition, female mice with different genotypes showed minor differences in their startle response at different time points after both types of stress.
The results of the study indicate that the Tph2 genotype interacts with stress types in the regulation of long-term hyperarousal after severe stress events. Our results also provide preclinical evidence that individuals with Tph2 gene deficiency may be more vulnerable to stress-induced hyperarousal and highlight the potential of targeting the serotonin system for post-traumatic intervention.

Key words: hyperarousal, 5-hydroxytryptamine, tryptophan-hydroxylase-2, auditory startle reflex