A Comprehensive Method To Quantify Adaptations by Male and Female Mice With Hot Flashes Induced by the Neurokinin B Receptor Agonist Senktide
Vasomotor symptoms (VMS; or hot flashes) plague millions of reproductive-aged men and women who have natural or iatrogenic loss of sex steroid production. Many affected individuals are left without treatment options because of contraindications to hormone replacement therapy and the lack of equally effective nonhormonal alternatives. Moreover, development of safer, more effective therapies has been stymied by the lack of an animal model that recapitulates the hot-flash phenomenon and enables direct testing of hypotheses regarding the pathophysiology underlying hot flashes. To address these problems, we developed a murine model for hot flashes and a comprehensive method for measuring autonomic and behavioral thermoregulation in mice. We designed and constructed an instrument called a thermocline that produces a thermal gradient along which mice behaviorally adapt to a thermal challenge to their core body temperature set point while their thermal preference over time is tracked and recorded. We tested and validated this murine model for VMS by administration of a TRPV1 agonist and a neurokinin B receptor agonist, capsaicin and senktide, respectively, to unrestrained mice and observed their autonomic and behavioral responses. Following both treatments, the mice exhibited a VMS-like response characterized by a drop in core body temperature and cold-seeking behavior on the thermocline. Senktide also caused a rise in tail skin temperature and increased Fos expression in the median preoptic area, a hypothalamic temperature control center. This dynamic model may be used to fully explore the cellular and molecular bases for VMS and to develop and test new therapeutic options.