Anxiety- and depressive-like responses and c-fos activity in preproenkephalin knockout mice: oversensitivity hypothesis of enkephalin deficit-induced posttraumatic stress disorder

J Biomed Sci. 2010 Apr 21;17(1):29. doi: 10.1186/1423-0127-17-29.


The present study used the preproenkephalin knockout (ppENK) mice to test whether the endogenous enkephalins deficit could facilitate the anxiety- and depressive-like symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). On Day 1, sixteen wildtype (WT) and sixteen ppENK male mice were given a 3 mA or no footshock treatment for 10 seconds in the footshock apparatus, respectively. On Days 2, 7, and 13, all mice were given situational reminders for 1 min per trial, and the freezing response was assessed. On Day 14, all mice were tested in the open field test, elevated plus maze, light/dark avoidance test, and forced swim test. Two hours after the last test, brain tissues were stained to examine c-fos expression in specific brain areas. The present results showed that the conditioned freezing response was significant for different genotypes (ppENK vs WT). The conditioned freezing effect of the ppENK mice was stronger than those of the WT mice. On Day 14, the ppENK mice showed more anxiety- and depressive-like responses than WT mice. The magnitude of Fos immunolabeling was also significantly greater in the primary motor cortex, bed nucleus of the stria terminalis-lateral division, bed nucleus of the stria terminalis-supracapsular division, paraventricular hypothalamic nucleus-lateral magnocellular part, central nucleus of the amygdala, and basolateral nucleus of the amygdala in ppENK mice compared with WT mice. In summary, animals with an endogenous deficit in enkephalins might be more sensitive to PTSD-like aversive stimuli and elicit stronger anxiety and depressive PTSD symptoms, suggesting an oversensitivity hypothesis of enkephalin deficit-induced PTSD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anxiety / etiology*
  • Anxiety / metabolism
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Avoidance Learning
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Depression / etiology*
  • Depression / metabolism
  • Depression / psychology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Electroshock
  • Enkephalins / deficiency*
  • Enkephalins / genetics
  • Male
  • Maze Learning
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Models, Biological
  • Protein Precursors / deficiency*
  • Protein Precursors / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos / metabolism*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / etiology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / metabolism
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Enkephalins
  • Protein Precursors
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos
  • preproenkephalin