A review of 25 years of the social interaction test

Eur J Pharmacol. 2003 Feb 28;463(1-3):35-53. doi: 10.1016/s0014-2999(03)01273-1.


The social interaction test of anxiety was developed 25 years ago to provide an ethologically based test that was sensitive to both anxiolytic and anxiogenic effects. It is sensitive to a number of environmental and physiological factors that can affect anxiety. It has detected anxiogenic effects of peptides such as corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), and anxiolytic effects of neuropeptide Y and substance P receptor antagonists. It has successfully identified neuropharmacological sites of action of anxiogenic compounds and drug withdrawal. Effects of compounds acting on the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) systems have been extensively investigated after both systemic administration and microinjection into specific brain regions. The use of this test has, thus, played a crucial role in unravelling the neural basis of anxiety. It is hoped that in the next 25 years, the test will play a crucial role in determining the genetic basis of anxiety disorders.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / pharmacology
  • Anxiety / chemically induced
  • Anxiety / metabolism
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Environment
  • Neuropeptides / metabolism
  • Neuropeptides / pharmacology
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism*
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / pharmacology
  • Social Behavior*
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / etiology
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / psychology


  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Neuropeptides
  • Neurotransmitter Agents