Research Papers:

Thermoregulatory correlates of nausea in rats and musk shrews

Sukonthar Ngampramuan, Matteo Cerri, Flavia Del Vecchio, Joshua J. Corrigan, Amornrat Kamphee, Alexander S. Dragic, John A. Rudd, Andrej Romanovsky and Eugene Nalivaiko _

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Oncotarget. 2014; 5:1565-1575. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.1732

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Sukonthar Ngampramuan1, Matteo Cerri2, Flavia Del Vecchio2, Joshua J. Corrigan3, Amornrat Kamphee1, Alexander S. Dragic3, John A. Rudd4, Andrej A. Romanovsky3, and Eugene Nalivaiko5

1 Research Center for Neuroscience and Institute of Molecular Bioscience, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand;

2 Department of Biomedical and Motor Sciences, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy;

3 FeverLab, Trauma Research, St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, Phoenix, AZ, USA;

4 School of Biomedical Sciences, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China;

5 School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW, Australia.


Eugene Nalivaiko, email:

Andrej A. Romanovsky, email:

Keywords: nausea, chemotherapy, temperature, hypothermia.

Received: December 21, 2013 Accepted: February 21, 2014 Published: March 30, 2014


Nausea is a prominent symptom and major cause of complaint for patients receiving anticancer chemo- or radiation therapy. The arsenal of anti-nausea drugs is limited, and their efficacy is questionable. Currently, the development of new compounds with anti-nausea activity is hampered by the lack of physiological correlates of nausea. Physiological correlates are needed because common laboratory rodents lack the vomiting reflex. Furthermore, nausea does not always lead to vomiting. Here, we report the results of studies conducted in four research centers to investigate whether nausea is associated with any specific thermoregulatory symptoms. Two species were studied: the laboratory rat, which has no vomiting reflex, and the house musk shrew (Suncus murinus), which does have a vomiting reflex. In rats, motion sickness was induced by rotating them in their individual cages in the horizontal plane (0.75 Hz, 40 min) and confirmed by reduced food consumption at the onset of dark (active) phase. In 100% of rats tested at three centers, post-rotational sickness was associated with marked (~1.5°C) hypothermia, which was associated with a short-lasting tail-skin vasodilation (skin temperature increased by ~4°C). Pretreatment with ondansetron, a serotonin 5-HT3 receptor antagonist, which is used to treat nausea in patients in chemo- or radiation therapy, attenuated hypothermia by ~30%. In shrews, motion sickness was induced by a cyclical back-and-forth motion (4 cm, 1 Hz, 15 min) and confirmed by the presence of retching and vomiting. In this model, sickness was also accompanied by marked hypothermia (~2°C). Like in rats, the hypothermic response was preceded by transient tail-skin vasodilation. In conclusion, motion sickness is accompanied by hypothermia that involves both autonomic and thermoeffector mechanisms: tail-skin vasodilation and possibly reduction of the interscapular brown adipose tissue activity. These thermoregulatory symptoms may serve as physiological correlates of nausea.

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