Hormonal cycling may be related to a higher incidence of pain syndrome in female. As tachykinins are pivotal in stress-induced colonic dysfunction, we investigated whether ovarian steroids influence stress-induced visceral hypersensitivity to rectal distension (RD) in female rats and further, whether this influence involves NK1 receptors. Female Wistar rats, either intact or ovariectomized (OVX), were equipped for abdominal muscle electromyography and submitted to 2-h partial restraint stress (PRS) or sham-PRS. First, the effect of PRS was evaluated in intact rats. Second, abdominal response to RD was recorded in OVX rats treated with either, progesterone, 17β-estradiol, 17β-estradiol-plus-progesterone, or vehicle, in both basal and PRS conditions. Third, the NK1 receptor-antagonist, SR140333, was tested in PRS-intact and PRS-OVX rats under 17β-estradiol or 17β-estradiol-plus-progesterone treatment. PRS induced visceral hypersensitivity to RD and this effect was prevented by ovariectomy. OVX rats treated with 17β-estradiol or 17β-estradiol-plus-progesterone, but not progesterone alone, exhibited visceral hypersensitivity after PRS similar to that of intact rats. Both stress-induced visceral hypersensitivity in intact rats and the hormonally-restored visceral hyper-responsiveness of OVX rats were antagonized by SR140333. It is concluded, therefore, that stress-induced visceral hypersensitivity in female rats is estrogens-dependent and mediated through NK1 receptor activation.
aInstitut National de la Recherche Agronomique, Neuro-Gastroenterology and Nutrition Unit, 180 chemin de Tournefeuille, B.P. 3, 31931 Toulouse, France
bEcole Supérieure d'Agriculture de Purpan, 31076 Toulouse, France.
∗Corresponding author. Tel.: +33-5-6128-5143; fax: +33-5-6128-5397
Submitted December 14, 2001; accepted February 18, 2002.