We used the inescapable foot shock paradigm (IFS) in rats as an animal model for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Previously we showed that exercise reversed the enhanced stress sensitivity induced by IFS. From literature it is known that food restriction has antidepressant and anxiolytic effects. Since both treatments influence energy expenditure, we questioned whether food restriction reduces anxiety in the IFS model via a comparable, NPY dependent mechanism as enrichment.
Anxiety of IFS-exposed animals was measured as change in locomotion and freezing after sudden silence in an open field test, before and after two weeks of food restriction. In addition a forced swim test (FST) was performed. Next, using qPCR, the expression of neuropeptide Y (NPY) and the neuropeptide Y1 receptor (Y1 receptor) was measured in the amygdala.
Food restriction increased locomotion and decreased freezing behavior both in control and IFS animals. These effects were small. IFS-induced anxiety was not abolished after two weeks of food restriction. IFS did not influence immobility or the duration of swimming in the FST of animals fed ad libitum. However, food restriction increased swimming and decreased the duration of immobility in IFS-exposed animals. Y1 receptor expression in the basolateral amygdala decreased after both IFS and food restriction. Although food restriction seems to induce a general anxiolytic effect, it does not operate via enhanced Y1 receptor expression and has no effect on the more pathogenic anxiety induced by IFS.