Lemon Odor Reduces Stress-induced Neuronal Activation in the Emotion Expression System: An Animal Model Study
Perception of particular sensory stimuli from the surroundings can influence emotion in individuals. In an uncomfortable situation, humans protect themselves from some aversive stimulus by acutely evoking a stress response. Animal model studies have contributed to an understanding of neuronal mechanisms underlying the stress response in humans. To study a possible anti-stressful effect of lemon odor, an excitation of neurons secreting corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) as a primary factor of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) was analyzed in animal model experiments, in which rats are restrained in the presence or absence of the odor. The effect was evaluated by measuring expression of c-Fos (an excited neuron marker) in the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN), a key structure of the HPA in the brain. We prepared 3 animal groups: Groups S, L and I. Groups S and L were restrained for 30 minutes while being blown by air and being exposed to the lemon odor, respectively. Group I was intact without any treatment. Two hours later of the onset of experiments, brains of all groups were sampled and processed for microscopic examination. Brain sections were processed for c-Fos immunostaining and/or <I>in situ</I> hybridization for CRH. In Group S but not in Group I, c-Fos expression was found in the PVN. A combined <I>in situ</I> hybridization-immunohistochemical dual labeling revealed that CRH mRNA-expressing neurons express c-Fos. In computer-assisted automatic counting, the incidence of c-Fos-expressing neurons in the entire PVN was statistically lower in Group L than in Group S. Detailed analysis of PVN subregions demonstrated that c-Fos-expressing neurons are fewer in Group L than in Group S in the dorsal part of the medial parvocellular subregion. These results may suggest that lemon odor attenuates the restraint stress-induced neuronal activation including CRH neurons, presumably mimicking an aspect of stress responses in humans.
- Kansei Engineering International Journal
Kansei Engineering International Journal 11, 115-120, 2012