Depressive-like behavior and stress reactivity are independent traits in a Wistar Kyoto x fisher 344 cross

L. C. Solberg*, N. Ahmadiyeh, A. E. Baum, M. H. Vitaterna, J. S. Takahashi, F. W. Turek, E. E. Redei

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Depression is a heritable disorder that is often precipitated by stress. Abnormalities of the stress-reactive hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis are also common in depressed patients. In animal models, the forced swim test (FST) is the most frequently used test of depressive-like behavior. We have used a proposed animal model of depression, the Wistar Kyoto (WKY) rat, to investigate the relationship as well as the mode of inheritance of FST behaviors and HPA measures. Through reciprocal breeding of WKY and F344 parent strains and brother-sister breeding of the F1 generation, we obtained 486 F2 animals. Parent, F1 and F2 animals were tested in the FST. Blood samples were collected for determination of basal and stress (10-min restraint) plasma corticosterone (CORT) levels, and adrenal weights were measured. We found that all measures were heritable to some extent and that this heritability was highly sex dependent. Both correlation and factor analyses of the F2 generation data demonstrate that FST behavior and HPA axis measures are not directly related. Thus, the underlying genetic components of depressive-like behavior and HPA axis abnormalities are likely to be disparate in the segregating F2 generation of a WKYxF344 cross.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)423-433
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular Psychiatry
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2003


  • Adrenal weight
  • Corticosterone
  • Forced swim behavior
  • Genetics
  • Heritability
  • Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis
  • Strain differences
  • Stress response

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Molecular Biology


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