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Physiol Behav. 1993 Dec;54(6):1215-20.

Chronic mild stress-induced anhedonia: greater effect in a genetic rat model of depression.

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Skipper Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill 27599-7175.


The effects of acute and chronic stressors on saccharin intake and preference in the hypercholinergic Flinders Sensitive Line (FSL) rat, a putative genetic animal model of depression, were studied and compared to the control Flinders Resistant Line (FRL) rats. Overall, the FRL rats drank significantly less saccharin and water than the FSL rats when compared over a wide range of saccharin concentrations (0.01-5%) under baseline conditions. A 0.02% saccharin concentration was used in subsequent experiments. We observed a significant suppression of saccharin intake/preference at 1 h following a single 5-min exposure to cold swim stress only in FSL rats. There was a tendency to increase saccharin intake in both lines at 1 h following a scrambled foot shock stress. These effects of acute stressors disappeared upon retesting for saccharin consumption/preference 23 h after the stress. Chronic 4-week exposure to unpredictable mild stressors significantly (p < 0.01) decreased saccharin consumption in the FSL rats, but not in the FRL rats. The FSL rats also exhibited a significantly greater decrease in saccharin preference (-24% vs. prestress baseline, as compared to -7% in FRL controls, p < 0.05). In conclusion, FSL rats appear more prone than the FRL rats to chronic, as well as immediate acute, stress-induced anhedonic effects. This outcome further supports the notion that the FSL rat is a useful model of a genetic predisposition to depressive-like reactions.

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