Genotype- and experience-dependent susceptibility to depressive-like responses in the forced-swimming test

Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2002 Nov;164(2):138-43. doi: 10.1007/s00213-002-1161-8. Epub 2002 Sep 5.


Rationale: The forced-swimming test (FST) is utilized to reproduce passive coping responses to stress that may model a relevant aspect of human depression in rodent species. Animals showing high levels of passive responses to the FST are assumed to model pathologically depressed individuals.

Objectives: We evaluated sensitivity of FST-induced behavioral responses to the interaction between genetic and environmental influences.

Methods: Behavioral responses to FST were evaluated in naive mice of the C57BL/6 and DBA/2 strains, in mice of both strains pre-exposed to FST 14 days before test, and in FST-experienced animals subsequently exposed to 12 days of stress experience (food restriction).

Results: C57BL/6 mice are characterized by high propensity to adopt passive coping responses in the FST. Moreover, stress enhances FST-induced immobility in mice of the C57BL/6 strain but reduces this response in DBA/2 mice. Finally, FST-induced immobility in C57BL/6 mice is reduced by chronic treatment with clinically effective antidepressants.

Conclusions: These results support the view that behavioral and neural responses to FST exhibited by C57BL/6 mice can be usefully exploited by pre-clinical research on depression.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic Uptake Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Amphetamine / pharmacology
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Antidepressive Agents, Tricyclic / pharmacology
  • Depression / genetics
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Desipramine / pharmacology
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genotype*
  • Immobilization / physiology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Inbred DBA
  • Motor Activity / drug effects
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Random Allocation
  • Social Environment
  • Species Specificity
  • Stress, Physiological / genetics
  • Stress, Physiological / psychology*
  • Swimming / physiology
  • Swimming / psychology*
  • Time Factors


  • Adrenergic Uptake Inhibitors
  • Antidepressive Agents, Tricyclic
  • Amphetamine
  • Desipramine