An intriguing question in the field of stress is what makes an individual more likely to be susceptible or resilient to stress-induced depression. Predisposition to stress susceptibility is believed to be influenced by genetic factors and early adversity. However, beyond genetics and life experiences, recent evidence has highlighted social rank as a key determinant of susceptibility to stress, underscoring dominant individuals as the vulnerable ones. This evidence is in conflict with epidemiological, clinical, and animal work pointing at a link between social subordination and depression. Here, we review and analyze rodent protocols addressing the relevance of social rank to predict vulnerability to chronic social stress. We also discuss whether a specific social status (i.e., dominance or subordination) is the appropriate predictor of vulnerability to develop stress-induced depression or rather, the loss of social rank and resources.
Keywords: depression; metabolites; nucleus accumbens; social defeat stress; social hierarchy; vulnerability.
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