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Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 720603, 8 pages
Research Article

Psychological Stress Induces Temporary Masticatory Muscle Mechanical Sensitivity in Rats

Department of General Dentistry and Emergency, School of Stomatology, The Fourth Military Medical University, Xi'an, Shaanxi 710032, China

Received 15 September 2010; Revised 13 December 2010; Accepted 30 December 2010

Academic Editor: Monica Fedele

Copyright © 2011 Fei Huang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


To explore the relationship between psychological stress and masticatory muscle pain, we created a communication stress animal model to determine whether psychological stress could induce increased mechanical sensitivity in masticatory muscles and to study the changes of mechanical nociceptive thresholds after stress removal. Forty-eight male Sprague-Dawley rats were divided into a control group (CON), a foot-shocked group (FS, including 3 subgroups recorded as FS-1, FS-2, and FS-3), a psychological stress group (PS), and a drug treatment group (DT). PS and DT rats were confined in a communication box for one hour a day to observe the psychological responses of neighboring FS rats.Measurements of the mechanical nociceptive thresholds of the bilateral temporal and masseter muscles showed a stimulus-response relationship between psychological stress and muscle mechanical sensitivity. The DT rats, who received a diazepam injection, showed almost the same mechanical sensitivity of the masticatory muscles to that of the control in response to psychological stress. Fourteen days after the psychological stressor was removed, the mechanical nociceptive thresholds returned to normal. These findings suggest that psychological stress is directly related to masticatory muscle pain. Removal of the stressor could be a useful method for relieving mechanical sensitivity increase induced by psychological stress.