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Behav Brain Res. 2008 Oct 10;192(2):254-8. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2008.04.015. Epub 2008 Apr 24.

Nature vs. nurture: can enrichment rescue the behavioural phenotype of BDNF heterozygous mice?

Author information

1
Central Institute of Mental Health Mannheim (ZI), University of Heidelberg, Germany. sabine.chourbaji@zi-mannheim.de

Abstract

In earlier experiments we have demonstrated that group-housing in a rather impoverished "standard" environment can be a crucial stress factor in male C57Bl/6 mice. The present study aimed at investigating the effect of combining a probable genetic vulnerability--postulated by the "Neurotrophin Hypothesis of Depression"--with the potentially modulating influence of a stressful environment such as "impoverished" standard housing conditions. For that purpose mice with a partial deletion of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) were group-housed under standard and enriched housing conditions and analysed in a well-established test battery for emotional behaviours. Standard group-housing affected emotional behaviour in male and female BDNF heterozygous mice, causing an increase in anxiety, changes in exploration as well as nociception. Providing the animals' cages with supplementary enrichment, however, led to a rescue of emotional alterations, which emphasises the significance of external factors and their relevance for a valid investigation of genetic aspects in these mutants as well as others, which may be examined in terms of stress-responsiveness or emotionality.

PMID:
18538870
DOI:
10.1016/j.bbr.2008.04.015
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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