Modeling psychiatric disorders for developing effective treatments

Nat Med. 2015 Sep;21(9):979-88. doi: 10.1038/nm.3935.


Recent advances in identifying risk-associated genes have provided unprecedented opportunities for developing animal models for psychiatric disease research with the goal of attaining translational utility to ultimately develop novel treatments. However, at this early stage, successful translation has yet to be achieved. Here we review recent advances in modeling psychiatric disease, discuss the utility and limitations of animal models, and emphasize the importance of shifting from behavioral analysis to identifying neurophysiological abnormalities, which are likely to be more conserved across species and thus may increase translatability. Looking forward, we envision that preclinical research will align with clinical research to build a common framework of comparable neurobiological abnormalities and to help form subgroups of patients on the basis of similar pathophysiology. Experimental neuroscience can then use animal models to discover mechanisms underlying distinct abnormalities and develop strategies for effective treatments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / etiology
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / genetics
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Humans
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells / cytology
  • Mental Disorders / etiology
  • Mental Disorders / physiopathology
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*