Inbred Balb/c mice show deficits of sociability. The endogenous tone of NMDA receptor-mediated neurotransmission is altered in Balb/c mice, which may explain the beneficial effect of D-cycloserine on impaired sociability. In the current study, Balb/c mice spent more time than the Swiss Webster comparator strain in the open arms of an elevated plus maze (EPM), suggesting that they are not more anxious or fearful in the absence of a social stimulus mouse. Moreover, Balb/c and Swiss Webster mice did not differ in the amount of time they spent exploring an inanimate object in an open field. Differences in exploratory activity between strains emerged only when a salient social stimulus mouse was enclosed in the open field. D-Cycloserine increased the amount of time Balb/c mice spent exploring the enclosed stimulus mouse to levels observed in vehicle-treated Swiss Webster mice. Finally, irrespective of strain, D-cycloserine increased exploratory activity as measured in open arm entries in the EPM, when no enclosed stimulus mouse was present. The data show that mouse strain influences D-cycloserine's effect on exploration in the presence of a salient social stimulus mouse. In the absence of an enclosed stimulus mouse, D-cycloserine increased open arm entries significantly in both the sociability-impaired Balb/c and comparator Swiss Webster strains. Thus, D-cycloserine positively affects exploratory activity in general, but strain differences emerge when the stimulus eliciting exploration is a salient social stimulus mouse versus an inanimate object. Further, the sociability deficit of the Balb/c mouse is not an epiphenomenon of increased generalized anxiety.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.