Behavioral evaluation of eight rat lines selected for high and low anxiety-related responses

Behav Brain Res. 2013 Nov 15;257:39-48. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2013.09.028. Epub 2013 Sep 24.


Anxiety traits can be stable and permanent characteristics of an individual across time that is less susceptible of influences by a particular situation. One way to study trait anxiety in an experimental context is through the use of rat lines, selected according to contrasting phenotypes of fear and anxiety. It is not clear whether the behavioral differences between two contrasting rat lines in one given anxiety test are also present in others paradigms of state anxiety. Here, we examine the extent to which multiple anxiety traits generalize across selected animal lines originally selected for a single anxiety trait. We review the behavioral results available in the literature of eight rat genetic models of trait anxiety - namely Maudsley Reactive and Non-reactive rats, Floripa H and L rats, Tsukuba High and Low Emotional rats, High and Low Anxiety-related rats, High and Low Ultrasonic Vocalization rats, Roman High and Low Avoidance rats, Syracuse High and Low Avoidance rats, and Carioca High and Low Conditioned Freezing rats - across 11 behavioral paradigms of innate anxiety or aversive learning frequently used in the experimental setting. We observed both convergence and divergence of behavioral responses in these selected lines across the 11 paradigms. We find that predisposition for specific anxiety traits will usually be generalized to other anxiety provoking stimuli. However this generalization is not observed across all genetic models indicating some unique trait and state interactions. Genetic models of enhanced-anxiety related responses are beginning to help define how anxiety can manifest differently depending on the underlying traits and the current environmentally induced state.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anxiety* / genetics
  • Anxiety* / physiopathology
  • Anxiety* / psychology
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Genotype
  • Rats