Psychosocial stress in tree shrews: clomipramine counteracts behavioral and endocrine changes

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1996 May;54(1):219-28. doi: 10.1016/0091-3057(95)02166-3.


Male tree shrews (Tupaia belangeri) provide an animal model to study the neurobehavioral consequences of chronic psychosocial stress. When living in visual and olfactory contact with a male conspecific by which it has been defeated, the subordinante tree shrew shows dramatic behavioral, physiological, and neuroendocrine changes. Because the over all pattern of these changes resemble a depression-like symptomatology, we investigated to what extent the behavioral and endocrine changes in subordinate animals can be reversed by treatment with the tricyclic antidepressant clomipramine. In the present study, animals were subjected to a 10-day period of psychosocial conflict to elicit stress-induced behavioral and endocrine alterations before the onset of drug treatment, and psychosocial stress continued throughout the treatment period of 30 days. Clomipramine was administered orally once daily at a dose of 50 mg/kg. The drug had a time-dependent restorative influence on marking and grooming behavior, locomotor activity, risk assessment, as well as on urinary cortisol and norepinephrine excretion. It, thus, appears that the clomipramine treatment counteracts the behavioral and endocrine effects of chronic psychosocial stress in tree shrews, and the time course of recovery corresponds closely to that observed when treating depressed patients in the clinic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects*
  • Clomipramine / pharmacology*
  • Grooming / drug effects
  • Hormones / blood
  • Hormones / metabolism*
  • Hydrocortisone / urine
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / drug effects
  • Norepinephrine / urine
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Social Behavior
  • Stress, Psychological / metabolism*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Tupaiidae / metabolism*
  • Tupaiidae / psychology*


  • Hormones
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors
  • Clomipramine
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Norepinephrine