, Volume 181, Issue 1, pp 153–159 | Cite as

Screening antidepressants in the chick separation-stress paradigm

  • Matthew W. Feltenstein
  • Kenneth J. Sufka
Original Investigation



Clinical research has indicated that antidepressants are efficacious in the treatment of anxiety disorders, especially when repeatedly administered. However, few animal models of anxiety are sensitive to antidepressants, a finding that may be due to procedures limited to acute administrations.


The purpose of the present research was to further validate the chick separation-stress paradigm as an animal model of anxiety by examining its sensitivity to the monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) phenelzine (6.25, 12.5, 25.0 mg/kg), the tricyclic antidepressant (TCA) imipramine (5.0, 10.0, 20.0 mg/kg), the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) citalopram (1.0, 2.5, 5.0 mg/kg), and the norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (NRI) maprotiline (5.0, 10.0, 20.0 mg/kg) under acute (no pretreatment) or repeated (3 or 6 days pretreatment) administration procedures.


Following any pretreatment, 8-day-old chicks received their respective vehicle or drug probe injection 15 min before tests in either a “mirror” (low stress) or “no mirror” (high stress) condition for a 180-s isolation period. The dependent measures were distress vocalizations to index separation stress and sleep onset latency to index sedation.


The model was sensitive to acutely administered phenelzine (MAOI), imipramine (TCA), and maprotiline (NRI), but not citalopram (SSRI) and retained its sensitivity to these drug probes across both repeated administration procedures. None of the drug probes possessed any sedative properties.


These results help extend the validity and utility of the chick separation-stress paradigm as an animal model of anxiety by demonstrating its sensitivity to antidepressants under both acute and repeated administration procedures.


Domestic fowl Antidepressants Anxiolytic screen Anxiety Separation stress Validation 



The authors would like to thank Jason Warnick, Courtney Cartwright, Laurel Johnson, Emily Mathis, Rob Robertson, April Stewart, and Robert Wicks for providing expert technical assistance, Drs. Michael Allen, Chris McCurdy, and Karen Sabol for their insightful discussions of this project, and Cal-Maine Foods for their generous donation of research animals. This work was supported by the Psychopharmacology Laboratory and an award to MWF from the Graduate School at the University of Mississippi.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MississippiOxfordUSA
  2. 2.Department of NeurosciencesMedical University of South CarolinaCharlestonUSA
  3. 3.Department of PharmacologyUniversity of MississippiOxfordUSA
  4. 4.Research Institute of Pharmaceutical SciencesUniversity of MississippiOxfordUSA

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