Current issue Supl.2, Volume 35 - /2013
Animal models of psychiatric disorders are a challenging but highly relevant issue. Most psychiatric disorders are very heterogeneous syndromes, resulting from multiple and varied causal factors and characterized by symptoms that can only be inferred with significant limitations in non-human models. As constructing a model that reproduces a whole psychiatric syndrome seems virtually impossible, researchers have tried to focus on endophenotypes, i.e., discrete traits that are more proximal to predisposing genes than the whole syndrome. These can be explored in a wide range of approaches, such as in pharmacological, lesion, and environmental models. Another challenge is to understand how genes interact with environmental factors over time to result in the syndromic phenotype. A better understanding of the subcellular mechanisms that enhance or allow brain resistance to environmental influences is required, as is a global thesis compatible with the diversity of diseases sharing similar behavioral and biological traits. With an experimental inventory of the possible causes of minor developmental failures, we may systematically explore their consequences in the adult animal and be able to decide if this will enlighten the understanding of one or another psychiatric disease.
Descriptors: Animal models; psychiatric disorders; endophenotype; epigenetics
The prevalence of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease (AD) and Parkinson's disease (PD), increases with age, and the number of affected patients is expected to increase worldwide in the next decades. Accurately understanding the etiopathogenic mechanisms of these diseases is a crucial step for developing disease-modifying drugs able to preclude their emergence or at least slow their progression. Animal models contribute to increase the knowledge on the pathophysiology of neurodegenerative diseases. These models reproduce different aspects of a given disease, as well as the histopathological lesions and its main symptoms. The purpose of this review is to present the main animal models for AD, PD, and Huntington's disease.
Descriptors: Neurodegenerative diseases; Alzheimer's disease; Parkinson's disease; Huntington's disease; animal models
Neurodegenerative diseases are pathological conditions that have an insidious onset and chronic progression. Different models have been established to study these diseases in order to understand their underlying mechanisms and to investigate new therapeutic strategies. Although various in vivo models are currently in use, in vitro models might provide important insights about the pathogenesis of these disorders and represent an interesting approach for the screening of potential pharmacological agents. In the present review, we discuss various in vitro and ex vivo models of neurodegenerative disorders in mammalian cells and tissues.
Descriptors: Neurodegenerative diseases; in vitro models; ex vivo models; neurons; neuroglia
Anxiety and stress-related disorders are severe psychiatric conditions that affect performance in daily tasks and represent a high cost to public health. The initial observation of Charles Darwin that animals and human beings share similar characteristics in the expression of emotion raise the possibility of studying the mechanisms of psychiatric disorders in other mammals (mainly rodents). The development of animal models of anxiety and stress has helped to identify the pharmacological mechanisms and potential clinical effects of several drugs. Animal models of anxiety are based on conflict situations that can generate opposite motivational states induced by approach-avoidance situations. The present review revisited the main rodent models of anxiety and stress responses used worldwide. Here we defined as "ethological" the tests that assess unlearned/unpunished responses (such as the elevated plus maze, light-dark box, and open field), whereas models that involve learned/punished responses are referred to as "conditioned operant conflict tests" (such as the Vogel conflict test). We also discussed models that involve mainly classical conditioning tests (fear conditioning). Finally, we addressed the main protocols used to induce stress responses in rodents, including psychosocial (social defeat and neonatal isolation stress), physical (restraint stress), and chronic unpredictable stress.
Descriptors: Anxiety disorders; stress; animal models
The incidence of depressive illness is high worldwide, and the inadequacy of currently available drug treatments contributes to the significant health burden associated with depression. A basic understanding of the underlying disease processes in depression is lacking; therefore, recreating the disease in animal models is not possible. Popular current models of depression creatively merge ethologically valid behavioral assays with the latest technological advances in molecular biology. Within this context, this study aims to evaluate animal models of depression and determine which has the best face, construct, and predictive validity. These models differ in the degree to which they produce features that resemble a depressive-like state, and models that include stress exposure are widely used. Paradigms that employ acute or sub-chronic stress exposure include learned helplessness, the forced swimming test, the tail suspension test, maternal deprivation, chronic mild stress, and sleep deprivation, to name but a few, all of which employ relatively short-term exposure to inescapable or uncontrollable stress and can reliably detect antidepressant drug response.
Descriptors: Face validity; construct validity; predictive validity; animals models; antidepressants; depression
Mood disorders are a leading cause of morbidity and mortality, yet their underlying pathophysiology remains unclear. Animal models serve as a powerful tool for investigating the neurobiological mechanisms underlying psychiatric disorders; however, no animal model developed to date can fully mimic the "corresponding" human psychiatric disorder. In this scenario, the development of different animal models contributes to our understanding of the neurobiology of these disorders and provides the possibility of preclinical pharmacologic screening. The present review seeks to provide a comprehensive overview of traditional and recent animal models, recapitulating different features and the possible pathologic mechanisms of mood disorders emulated by these models.
The use of antipsychotic drugs represents an important approach for the treatment of schizophrenia. However, their efficacy is limited to certain symptoms of this disorder, and they induce serious side effects. As a result, there is a strong demand for the development of new drugs, which depends on reliable animal models for pharmacological characterization. The present review discusses the face, construct, and predictive validity of classical animal models for studying the efficacy and side effects of compounds for the treatment of schizophrenia. These models are based on the properties of antipsychotics to impair the conditioned avoidance response and reverse certain behavioral changes induced by psychotomimetic drugs, such as stereotypies, hyperlocomotion, and deficit in prepulse inhibition of the startle response. Other tests, which are not specific to schizophrenia, may predict drug effects on negative and cognitive symptoms, such as deficits in social interaction and memory impairment. Regarding motor side effects, the catalepsy test predicts the liability of a drug to induce Parkinson-like syndrome, whereas vacuous chewing movements predict the liability to induce dyskinesia after chronic treatment. Despite certain limitations, these models may contribute to the development of more safe and efficacious antipsychotic drugs.
Descriptors: Antipsychotics; schizophrenia; animal models; pharmacology
Drug addiction has serious health and social consequences. In the last 50 years, a wide range of techniques have been developed to model specific aspects of drug-taking behaviors and have greatly contributed to the understanding of the neurobiological basis of drug abuse and addiction. In the last two decades, new models have been proposed in an attempt to capture the more genuine aspects of addiction-like behaviors in laboratory animals. The goal of the present review is to provide an overview of the preclinical procedures used to study drug abuse and dependence and describe recent progress that has been made in studying more specific aspects of addictive behavior in animals.
Descriptors: Animal model; dependence; addiction; drugs of abuse