In-depth behavioral characterization of the corticosterone mouse model and the critical involvement of housing conditions

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26 Citations (Scopus)


Depression and anxiety are disabling and highly prevalent psychiatric disorders. To better understand the neurobiological basis of mood and anxiety disorders, relevant animal models are needed. The corticosterone mouse model is frequently used to study depression. Chronic stress and accompanying glucocorticoid elevation causes pathological changes in the central nervous system, which are related to psychiatric symptoms. Exogenous administration of corticosterone is therefore often used to induce depressive-like behavior in mice and in some cases also features of anxiety-like behavior are shown. However, a thorough characterization of this model has never been conducted and housing conditions of the used subjects often differ between the implemented protocols. We chronically administered a subcutaneous corticosterone bolus injection to single- and group-housed mice, and we subsequently evaluated the face validity of this model by performing a battery of behavioral tests (forced swim test, mouse-tail suspension test, saccharin intake test, novelty-suppressed feeding test, elevated plus maze, light/dark paradigm and open field test). Our results show that corticosterone treatment has a substantial overall effect on depressive-like behavior. Increases in anxiety-like behavior on the other hand are mainly seen in single housed animals, independent of treatment. The current study therefore does not only show a detailed behavioral characterization of the corticosterone mouse model, but furthermore also elucidates the critical influence of housing conditions on the behavioral outcome in this model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-207
Number of pages9
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal/physiology
  • Corticosterone/administration & dosage
  • Depression
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Exploratory Behavior/physiology
  • Glucocorticoids/physiology
  • Hindlimb Suspension
  • Housing
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Motor Activity/physiology


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