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PLoS One. 2009;4(1):e4326. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0004326. Epub 2009 Jan 29.

Chronic mild stress (CMS) in mice: of anhedonia, 'anomalous anxiolysis' and activity.

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Affectis Pharmaceuticals AG, Martinsried, Germany.



In a substantial proportion of depressed patients, stressful life events play a role in triggering the evolution of the illness. Exposure to stress has effects on different levels in laboratory animals as well and for the rat it has been shown that chronic mild stress (CMS) can cause antidepressant-reversible depressive-like effects. The adoption of the model to the mouse seems to be problematic, depending on the strain used and behavioural endpoint defined. Our aim was to evaluate the applicability of CMS to mice in order to induce behavioural alterations suggested to reflect depression-like symptoms.


A weekly CMS protocol was applied to male mice of different mouse strains (D2Ola, BL/6J and BL/6N) and its impact on stress-sensitive behavioural measures (anhedonia-, anxiety- and depression-related parameters) and body weight was assessed. Overnight illumination as commonly used stressor in CMS protocols was particularly investigated in terms of its effect on general activity and subsequently derived saccharin intake. CMS application yielded strain-dependent behavioural and physiological responses including 'paradox' anxiolytic-like effects. Overnight illumination was found to be sufficient to mimic anhedonic-like behaviour in BL/6J mice when being applied as sole stressor.


The CMS procedure induced some behavioural changes that are compatible with the common expectations, i.e. 'anhedonic' behaviour, but in parallel behavioural alterations were observed which would be described as 'anomalous' (e.g. decreased anxiety). The results suggest that a shift in the pattern of circadian activity has a particular high impact on the anhedonic profile. Changes in activity in response to novelty seem to drive the 'anomalous' behavioural alterations as well.

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