Long-lasting, selective, anxiogenic effects of feline predator stress in mice

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
R. Adamec, S. Walling, P. Burton
Physiology & Behavior
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Lasting increases in anxiety-like behavior (ALB) are produced by brief exposure of rats to a cat [Adamec RE, Shallow T, Lasting effects on rodent anxiety of a single exposure to a cat, Physiol. Behav., 54 (1993) 101–109.]. Mice also respond defensively to natural predator stimuli. Moreover, chronic exposure of mice to rat odor has immediate anxiogenic effects in plus maze and lasting (7 days) and effects on acoustic startle. The present study examined the lasting (7 days) after effects on ALB of a brief unprotected exposure of male CFW mice to a cat. Lasting effects on ALB of exposure to the cat exposure room were also assessed. Effects on behavior were studied in the hole board and elevated plus-maze (EPM). An ethological analysis of behavior revealed that risk assessment in the EPM was increased the most in predator stressed mice. Mice exposed to the cat exposure room showed increased risk assessment falling between controls and cat exposed mice. Behavior in the hole board was unaffected, as were most other behaviors in the plus maze. Factor analysis revealed independence of risk assessment from other measures of ALB, activity and exploration, consistent with findings in rats. Aspects of the stress experience were highly predictive of later response to the cat. Cat biting and pawing, mouse fleeing and mouse weight measured at the time of cat exposure together accounted for 71% of the variance of risk assessment in cat exposed mice. The significance of these findings for vulnerability to cat predator stress of mice and for the use of predator stress in mice as a model of aspects of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are discussed.


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