Behavioral animal models of depression

Neurosci Bull. 2010 Aug;26(4):327-37. doi: 10.1007/s12264-010-0323-7.


Depression is a chronic, recurring and potentially life-threatening illness that affects up to 20% of the population across the world. Despite its prevalence and considerable impact on human, little is known about its pathogenesis. One of the major reasons is the restricted availability of validated animal models due to the absence of consensus on the pathology and etiology of depression. Besides, some core symptoms such as depressed mood, feeling of worthlessness, and recurring thoughts of death or suicide, are impossible to be modeled on laboratory animals. Currently, the criteria for identifying animal models of depression rely on either of the 2 principles: actions of known antidepressants and responses to stress. This review mainly focuses on the most widely used animal models of depression, including learned helplessness, chronic mild stress, and social defeat paradigms. Also, the behavioral tests for screening antidepressants, such as forced swimming test and tail suspension test, are also discussed. The advantages and major drawbacks of each model are evaluated. In prospective, new techniques that will be beneficial for developing novel animal models or detecting depression are discussed.

抑郁症是一种慢性的、 具有高复发率的精神性疾病, 往往会危及到病人的生命。 尽맜其全球发病率高达 20%, 但人们对其病理生理机制了解甚少, 这主要归因于缺乏有效可靠的动物模型。 此外, 抑郁症的核心症状, 例如抑郁心境、 无价值感和反复出现自杀念头等, 均无法在实验动物上得以模拟。 目前, 大部分动物模型的建立 主要参照以下两个原则之一: 对于已知抗抑郁药的作用或者是对应激的反应。 本综述主要介绍目前最常用的几个 抑郁症动物模型, 包括获得性无助、 慢性温和应激和社会失败应激, 以及一些用于筛选有抗抑郁活性药物的行为 学检测方法(如强迫游泳实验和悬尾实验), 并对它们的优点与不足进行讨论。 最后, 对动物模型和行为学检测 方法的发展方向进行展望。

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Depression / physiopathology*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Helplessness, Learned
  • Hindlimb Suspension / methods
  • Humans
  • Swimming / psychology