, Volume 110, Issue 1–2, pp 245–253 | Cite as

Attenuation of antipredator defensive behavior in rats following chronic treatment with imipramine

  • Robert J. Blanchard
  • Jon K. Shepherd
  • R. John Rodgers
  • Linda Magee
  • D. Caroline Blanchard
Original Investigations


The anxiety/defense test battery has been developed to assess defensive reactions in rats to situations associated with a natural predator, the domestic cat. This comprises three paradigms designed to study the effects of cat exposure on general activity and location with respect to the cat (proxemic avoidance), the effects of cat exposure on non-defensive consummatory behavior, and the behavioral response to cat odor. In the present study subjects were exposed to 21 days pretreatment with imipramine (0, 5, and 15 mg/kg), before being assessed in the three experimental paradigms (carried out over a total period of 7 days). Imipramine treatment was maintained on a daily basis during the 7 days taken to complete the series of tests. The data indicated a behaviorally specific profile consistent with anxiety/fear reduction, but not with sedation, in three different paradigms, following treatment with 15 mg/kg imipramine. These behavioral changes included a reduction in freezing, proxemic avoidance and a disinhibition of suppressed feeding in response to cat presentation. Similarly, imipramine treatment (15 mg/kg) significantly reduced behaviors associated with risk assessment (e.g. flat back approach, stretch attend) during presentation of a cat odor stimulus. This behavioral profile suggests that chronic pretreatment with imipramine produces an attenuation of antipredator defensive behavior.

Key words

Imipramine Antipanic Tricyclic antidepressant Chronic treatment Anxiety Defense Fear Risk assessment Animal model Sex differences 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert J. Blanchard
    • 1
    • 3
  • Jon K. Shepherd
    • 1
  • R. John Rodgers
    • 4
  • Linda Magee
    • 1
  • D. Caroline Blanchard
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Bekesy Laboratory of NeurobiologyUSA
  2. 2.Department of Anatomy and Reproductive BiologyJohn A. Burns School of MedicineUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of HawaiiHonoluluUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK

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