Stress inoculation in mice induces global resilience

Transl Psychiatry. 2020 Jun 19;10(1):200. doi: 10.1038/s41398-020-00889-0.


Each year, more than half a billion people in the world are affected by stress-related health disorders. Consequently, there is an urgent need for new insights to guide interventions designed to increase stress resilience. Studies of humans and various animals have uncovered the process of stress inoculation, in which exposure to mild stressors enhances subsequent stress resilience. Here, we investigate whether stress inoculation-induced resilience in mice consistently occurs across a multiplicity of different stress contexts (tests). C57BL/6 J adult male mice were randomised either to stress inoculation training (n = 36) or to a non-inoculated, but handled control condition (n = 36). Thereafter, indications of coping and resilience were assessed during (i) acute social defeat in a context similar to that used for stress inoculation training, and (ii) fear conditioning and learned extinction in a novel context. Stress inoculation effects were also assessed during (iii) tail-suspension and (iv) open-field tests that each represent milder stressors. Stress-inoculated mice showed more active defence behaviour during acute social defeat, higher sociability before and after defeat, and greater indications of learned extinction of conditioned fear compared to non-inoculated control mice. Stress-inoculated mice also responded with diminished tail-suspension immobility and open-field defecation. Results suggest that stress inoculation protects against various stressors that differ in quality and relative intensity. Stress inoculation research in mice may serve as the basis for mechanistic studies of global resilience in humans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Animals
  • Fear
  • Learning
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Resilience, Psychological*
  • Stress, Psychological*