Different susceptibility to social defeat stress of BalbC and C57BL6/J mice

Behav Brain Res. 2011 Jan 1;216(1):100-8. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2010.07.014. Epub 2010 Jul 21.


Social stress may precipitate psychopathological disorders in susceptible individuals. The present experiments were focused on the biology beyond the differential susceptibility to social stress. Social defeat, an ethologically relevant stressor known to elicit different coping strategies, was used in two mouse strains differing for baseline emotionality, such as C57BL6/J and BalbC. In separate experiments, in both strains a single social defeat decreased home-cage activity without altering social aversion; it diminished body weight only in defeated BalbC mice. In longitudinal experiments, mice experienced repeated social defeats that induced multiple long-term consequences. Defeated C57BL6/J increased their body weight and food intake; defeated BalbC mice diminished their metabolic efficiency. Only defeated BalbC subjects exhibited increased social avoidance levels; no differences from controls were seen on forced swim test response in defeated mice of either strain. No long-term effects of social defeat were detected in peripheral biomarkers of stress, metabolic, and immune responses, although the analysis of selected internal organs revealed decreases in abdominal fat and gonadal organs in all defeated subjects. These results demonstrated a strain-distinctive profile in the susceptibility to social defeat stress, either acutely or chronically, with metabolic consequences more consistently found in C57BL6/J while social aversion induced predominantly in BalbC subjects.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Cytokines / blood
  • Inflammation / blood
  • Inflammation / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Social Behavior*
  • Species Specificity
  • Stress, Psychological / blood
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology*


  • Biomarkers
  • Cytokines