The staircase test in mice: A simple and efficient procedure for primary screening of anxiolytic agents
- Cite this article as:
- Simiand, J., Keane, P.E. & Morre, M. Psychopharmacology (1984) 84: 48. doi:10.1007/BF00432023
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The staircase test consists of placing a naive mouse in an enclosed staircase with five steps and observing the number of steps climbed and rearings made in a 3-min period. All the clinically active anxiolytics tested (chlordiazepoxide, clorazepate, diazepam, lorazepam, meprobamate, phenobarbital) reduce rearing at doses which did not reduce the number of steps climbed. The majorrity of non-anxiolytic substances tested (haloperidol, chlorpromazine, impiramine, amitriptyline, amphetamine, morphine and carbamazepine) produced a parallel reduction of both behavioural variables. Ethosuximide had no effect on behaviour. The anticonvulsant sodium valproate produced an anxiolytic profile in this test, since it reduced rearing, while increasing step climbing. This result confirms the anxiolytic properties of valproate observed in other behavioural models. Our results indicate that the staircase test in mice is simple, rapid and selective for anxiolytics. The test is well suited for use as a primary screening method.