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Behav Processes. 2005 Feb 28;68(2):129-34.

Genetic differences in the elevated plus-maze persist after first exposure of inbred rats to the test apparatus.

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Laboratório de Genética do Comportamento, Departamento de Biologia Celular, Embriologia e Genética, Centro de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, 88.040-900 Florianópolis, SC, Brazil.


The elevated plus-maze (EPM) is an anxiety model thought to assess different types of emotional states depending on whether or not the animals have been previously exposed to the test apparatus. Accordingly, benzodiazepine-treated rodents generally differ from controls in the first but not in the second EPM trial. Inbred Lewis and SHR rats of both sexes (N=10) were submitted twice (test and retest) to the EPM with a 24 h interval between trials. Overall strain differences (Lewis<SHR) were observed in both males and females concerning anxiety-related measures (time spent and percent of entries in the open arms) regardless of previous maze experience. Moreover, prior exposure to the test apparatus produced an overall decrease in the approach towards the open arms in both strains and sexes. The fact that genetic differences did not diminish or disappear in the second trial, suggests that test and retest in the EPM are likely to share some common emotional components and that differences between naïve LEW and SHR rats are not similar to those observed between control and benzodiazepine-treated animals.

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