04 September 2007
Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of stress and neuropeptides on airway responses in ovalbumin (OVA)-sensitized rats. Methods: Three experimental conditions were employed: neonatal capsaicin treatment, foot shock stress and OVA sensitization. For neuropeptide depletion, male Wistar rats were neonatally treated with capsaicin (50 mg/kg) or with control solution 2 days after birth. Ninety days later, they were injected with OVA and aluminum hydroxide (ED0) or no injection. Thereafter, rats of the stressed groups were individually placed in a shuttle box where they received 50 mild escapable foot shocks/day; the stressful stimuli were repeated until ED14, when the animals received OVA aerosol. Pulmonary mechanic function was measured before and after OVA challenge in anesthetized and mechanically ventilated rats. Results: Data on ultrasonic vocalizations and corticosterone showed high levels of anxiety in stressed animals. As expected, a significant increment in airway elastance and resistance after the OVA challenge was found in sensitized rats compared to non-sensitized ones. Capsaicin treatment decreased the values of elastance in sensitized and non-stressed rats; however, after the OVA challenge, elastance was increased in stressed animals. No differences were found in the levels of resistance among sensitized and non-stressed rats; however, a reduced increment in resistance was verified in capsaicin-treated, stressed animals. Conclusions: Our results suggest that neurokinin depletion and stress may affect smooth muscle tonus around the airways during an anaphylactic reaction. These data suggest that stress and neuropeptides play a significant role in pulmonary function in OVA-sensitized rats.