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Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2006 Jul;30(5):873-80. Epub 2006 Apr 27.

The four-plates test: anxiolytic or analgesic paradigm?

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  • 1EA 3256, Neurobiologie de l'anxiété et de la dépression, Faculté de Médecine, BP 53508, 1 rue Gaston Veil, F44035 Nantes cedex 01, France.


The four-plates test (FPT) is an animal model of anxiety in which the exploration of the novel surroundings is suppressed by the delivery of a mild electric foot shock. The anti-nociceptive system has been reported to be activated by a variety of stressful stimuli such as footshock. The present study was thus designed to compare effects of drugs in the FPT and in the hot-plate test (an animal model of pain), in order to disambiguate the drug-induced anti-punishment effects obtained in the FPT from alterations in pain sensitivity. Various compounds, known to be implicated in anxiety states as well as nociception, have been studied. Although morphine induced a strong anti-nociceptive effect, it did not modify the number of shocks received in the FPT. Alprazolam and diazepam induced an anxiolytic-like effect in the FPT, at doses that did not induce any effect in the hot-plate test. The antidepressants previously reported anxiogenic (desipramine, maprotiline) in the FPT were found to be analgesic at the same doses. Milnacipran, venlafaxine and paroxetine did not modify the pain threshold, whereas they have previously been shown to induce anxiolytic-like effects in the FPT. The dopaminergic antidepressant agent nomifensine was without effect on both tests. Our results suggest that the reported drug-induced anti-punishment effects in the FPT are not related to modifications of pain threshold but to a pure anxiolytic-like effect.

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