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Front Behav Neurosci. 2013 Feb 28;7:14. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2013.00014. eCollection 2013.

Resilience in shock and swim stress models of depression.

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Department of Psychology, University of New Hampshire Durham, NH, USA.


Experimental models of depression often entail exposing a rodent to a stressor and subsequently characterizing changes in learning and anhedonia, which may reflect symptoms of human depression. Importantly, not all people, and not all laboratory rats, exposed to stressors develop depressed behavior; these "resilient" individuals are the focus of our review. Herein we describe research from the "learned helplessness" and "intermittent swim stress" (ISS) models of depression in which rats that were allowed to control the offset of the aversive stimulus with a behavioral response, and in a subset of rats that were not allowed to control the stressor that appeared to be behaviorally and neurochemically similar to rats that were either naive to stress or had controllability over the stressor. For example, rats exposed to inescapable tailshock, but do not develop learned helplessness, exhibit altered sensitivity to the behavioral effects of GABAA receptor antagonists and reduced in vitro benzodiazepine receptor ligand binding. This pattern suggested that resilience might involve activation of an endogenous benzodiazepine-like compound, possibly an allostatic modulator of the GABAA receptor like allopregnanolone. From the ISS model, we have observed in resilient rats protection from stressor-induced glucocorticoid increases and immune activation. In order to identify the neural mediators of these correlates of resilience, non-invasive measures are needed to predict the resilient or vulnerable phenotype prior to analysis of neural endpoints. To this end, we found that ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) appear to predict the resilient phenotype in the ISS paradigm. We propose that combining non-invasive predictive measures, such as USVs with biological endpoint measures, will facilitate future research into the neural correlates of resilience.


GABAA receptor; neurosteroids; resilience; shock and swim stress; ultrasonic vocalizations

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