, Volume 231, Issue 1, pp 43-53
Date: 30 Jul 2013

Effects of chronic antidepressant treatments in a putative genetic model of vulnerability (Roman low-avoidance rats) and resistance (Roman high-avoidance rats) to stress-induced depression

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The Roman low- (RLA) and high-avoidance (RHA) rats were selectively bred for, respectively, poor versus rapid acquisition of active avoidance in a shuttle box and, under aversive conditions, display reactive (RLA) versus proactive (RHA) coping behaviors. In the forced swim test (FST), RLA rats exhibit a depression-like behavior characterized by greater immobility and fewer climbing counts when compared with their RHA counterparts. Furthermore, subacute treatments with clinically effective antidepressant drugs decrease immobility and increase climbing or swimming in RLA rats but do not modify the performance of RHA rats.

Objective and methods

Because chronic treatment with antidepressants is usually required to produce clinical effects, the present study was designed to compare the behaviors of RLA and RHA rats in the FST after subacute (1 day) and chronic (15 days) administration of desipramine, fluoxetine, and chlorimipramine.


In RLA rats, subacute treatments with low doses of desipramine, fluoxetine, and chlorimipramine (2.5–5 mg/kg) were ineffective whereas chronic treatments with the same doses of all three antidepressants decreased immobility and also increased climbing (desipramine) or swimming (fluoxetine). By contrast, neither subacute nor chronic treatments with these antidepressants induced significant changes in the behavior of RHA rats in the FST.


RLA and RHA rats represent two divergent phenotypes, respectively susceptible and resistant to develop depression-like behavior under aversive environmental conditions that may be used to identify genetically determined neural substrates and mechanisms underlying vulnerability and resistance to stress-induced depression.