Acute restraint stress induces specific changes in nitric oxide production and inflammatory markers in the rat hippocampus and striatum.
In recent years, the roles of chronic stress and depression as independent risk factors for decreased insulin sensitivity and the development of diabetes have been increasingly recognized. However, an understanding of the mechanisms linking insulin resistance and acute psychological stress are very limited. We hypothesized that acute psychological stress may cause the development of insulin resistance, which may be a risk factor in developing type 2 diabetes. We tested the hypothesis in a well-established mouse model using 180 episodes of inescapable foot shock (IES) followed by a behavioral escape test. In this study, mice that received IES treatment were tested for acute insulin resistance by measuring glucose metabolism and insulin signaling. When compared with normal and sham mice, mice that were exposed to IES resulting in escape failure (defined as IES with behavioral escape failure) displayed elevated blood glucose levels in both glucose tolerance and insulin tolerance tests. Furthermore, mice with IES exposure and behavioral escape failure exhibited impaired hepatic insulin signaling via the insulin-induced insulin receptor/insulin receptor substrate 1/Akt pathway, without affecting similar pathways in skeletal muscle, adipose tissue, and brain. Additionally, a rise in the murine growth-related oncogene KC/GRO was associated with impaired glucose metabolism in IES mice, suggesting a mechanism by which psychological stress by IES may influence glucose metabolism. The present results indicate that psychological stress induced by IES can acutely alter hepatic responsiveness to insulin and affect whole-body glucose metabolism.