Creation of a line of "depressed" mice from a selection
of breeders exhibiting a behavioral helplessness

Vaugeois JM, Costentin J
Unite de Neuropsychopharmacologie
Experimentale UPRES-A 6036 CNRS-IFRMP
n. 23, Faculte de Medecine et de Pharmacie de Rouen,
Saint Etienne du Rouvray, France.
C R Seances Soc Biol Fil 1998;192(6):1149-61


Antidepressants are used since 40 years. All presently used antidepressants have a slow onset of action and do not improve all patients; thus, there is an absolute need for new antidepressants. A variety of animal models, often based upon the monoaminergic theory of depressive disorders, has been used to screen the current antidepressants. In fact, the main focus of most of these animal models has been to predict the antidepressant potential i.e. to establish predictive validity. However, the evaluation of such animal models should also consider face validity, i.e. how closely the model resembles the human condition, and this should help to identify innovating medicines. Antidepressants, when taken by a healthy person, induce nothing more than side effects, unrelated to an action on mood, whereas they alleviate depressive symptomatology in depressed patients. We have speculated that genetically selected animal models would be closer to the human clinical situation than models based on standard laboratory strains. We have depicted here that marked differences exist between strains of mice in the amount of immobility i.e. "spontaneous helplessness" observed in the tail suspension test, a method used to screen potential antidepressants. We have studied the behavioural characteristics of mice selectively bred for spontaneous high or low immobility scores in the tail suspension test. Hopefully, these selectively bred lines will provide a novel approach to investigate behavioural, neurochemical and neuroendocrine correlates of antidepressant action.
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