Emotionally significant stimuli, including potential threats from the external environment, trigger an increase in body temperature, a response known as emotional hyperthermia. Sympathetically-mediated brown adipose tissue (BAT) thermogenesis contributes substantially to this hyperthermic response. The systemic administration of α2-adrenergic agonists is known to inhibit both febrile and shivering responses. In the present study, we investigated whether systemic administration of clonidine, a α2-adrenoceptor agonist, attenuates the emotional hyperthermia evoked in conscious unrestrained rats suddenly confronted with a second (intruder) rat, itself confined to a small cage. Pre-implanted thermistors were used to measure BAT and body temperature in conscious, freely moving, male Sprague-Dawley rats. The rats were pre-treated with intraperitoneally administered vehicle (Ringer solution) or clonidine (1, 10 and 100 µg/kg). Clonidine, in a dose-dependent manner, reduced the intruder-elicited increases in BAT (log-dose linear regression F(1,16) = 9.52, R2 = 0.37, P < 0.01) and body temperature (F(1,16) = 6.48, R2 = 0.29, P < 0.05). We also investigated, in anesthetized rats, whether systemic clonidine administration inhibits BAT sympathetic nerve discharge evoked via activation of neurons in the lateral habenula (LHb) – a nucleus involved in the regulation of emotional hyperthermia. In anesthetized rats, clonidine abolished the BAT sympathetic nerve discharges elicited via bicuculline-mediated disinhibition of the LHb. These results suggest that activation of central α2-adrenergic receptors attenuates the process of emotional hyperthermia by reduction of BAT thermogenesis.
- Brown adipose tissue
- Lateral habenula