Social stress is a risk factor for affective disorders in vulnerable individuals. Although the biological nature of stress susceptibility/resilience remains to be elucidated, genetic variation is considered amongst the principal contributors to brain disorders. Furthermore, genetic predisposition may be determinant for the therapeutic outcome, as proposed for antidepressant treatments. In the present studies we compared the inherently diverse genetic backgrounds of 2 mouse strains by assessing the efficacy of a chronic antidepressant treatment in a repeated social stress procedure. C57BL/6J and BalbC mice underwent 10-day social defeats followed by 28-day fluoxetine treatment (10 mg/kg/mL, p.o.). In C57BL/6J, most of the social defeat-induced changes were of metabolic nature including persistently altered feed efficiency and decreased abdominal fat stores that were ameliorated by fluoxetine. BalbC mouse behavior was persistently affected by social defeat both in the social avoidance and the forced swim tests, and in either procedure it was restored by chronic fluoxetine, whereas their endocrine parameters were mostly unaffected. The highlighted strain-specific responsivity to the metabolic and behavioral consequences of social defeat and to the chronic antidepressant treatment offers a promising research tool to further explore the underlying neural mechanisms and genetic basis of stress susceptibility and treatment response.
- Social experience