Chronic stress and carbohydrate metabolism: Persistent changes and slow return to normalcy in male albino rats
AbstractThe present study tested the hypothesis that long-term repeated exposure to stressors results in irreversible changes in carbohydrate metabolism. Groups of adult male rats (five per group) were restrained for 1 h and 4 h later were forced to swim for 15 min everyday for 2, 4, or 24 weeks; five rats were autopsied after each interval. Groups of five rats exposed to stress for 2 or 4 weeks were maintained without further treatment (recovery groups) for up to 24 weeks. The fasting blood glucose concentration, measured at weekly intervals, was significantly higher in the stressed rats than in controls throughout the experiment, except in the 24th week, whereas that of the recovery groups was significantly higher than controls only up to the 8th week after the end of stress exposure and then reached normalcy. The blood concentrations of glucose, lactate, and pyruvate were significantly higher in the 2 and 4 weeks stress groups than in controls, whereas, except for lactate, in rats stressed for 24 weeks these values did not significantly differ from those in controls. These changes were accompanied by increased gluconeogenesis and glycogenolysis as shown by alterations in activities of hepatic carbohydrate metabolizing enzymes and unaltered blood insulin concentrations in rats stressed for 2, 4, and 24 weeks. Furthermore, the blood insulin levels did not significantly vary among controls and the 2, 4, and 24 weeks stress groups. The results reveal that though hyperglycemia induced by long-term stress exposure is reversible, it persists for a prolonged period, even after the termination of stress exposure, before reaching normalcy. Prevalence of hyperglycemia for a prolonged period through increased activities of hepatic enzymes in stressed rats exemplifies allostasis.