Repeated social defeat causes increased anxiety-like behavior and alters splenocyte function in C57BL/6 and CD-1 mice

Brain Behav Immun. 2007 May;21(4):458-66. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2006.11.001. Epub 2006 Dec 18.


The experimental model, social disruption (SDR), is a model of social stress in which mice are repeatedly attacked and defeated in their home cage by an aggressive conspecific. In terms of the impact of this stressor on the immune response, SDR has been reported to cause hyperinflammation and glucocorticoid insensitivity. To this point however, the behavioral consequences of SDR have not been thoroughly characterized. Because social defeat has been reported to cause anxiety- and depressive-like behaviors, the current study was designed to assess whether SDR also causes anxiety- and depressive-like behaviors. Using the light/dark preference test and the open field test as tools to measure behaviors characteristic of anxiety, the data showed that C57BL/6 and CD-1 male mice subjected to SDR displayed increased anxiety-like behavior. The increase in anxiety-like behaviors persisted for at least 1 week after the cessation of the stressor. In contrast, depressive-like behaviors were not elicited by SDR as assessed by the forced swim test or the tail suspension test. These data indicate that social disruption stress causes an increase in anxiety-like behaviors, but not depressive-like behaviors.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aggression
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Anxiety / etiology*
  • Anxiety / immunology
  • Anxiety / physiopathology
  • Depression / etiology*
  • Depression / immunology
  • Depression / physiopathology
  • Dominance-Subordination*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Social Behavior
  • Species Specificity
  • Spleen / cytology
  • Spleen / physiopathology*
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*
  • Stress, Psychological / immunology
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology