Animal models of major depression: drawbacks and challenges


on the November 11, 2019

Published in J. Neural Transm.

Research project led by Prof. C. Belzung.

Animal models of major depression: drawbacks and challenges


Major depression is a leading contributor to the global burden of disease. This situation is mainly related to the chronicity and/or recurrence of the disorder, and to poor response to antidepressant therapy. Progress in this area requires valid animal models. Current models are based either on manipulating the environment to which rodents are exposed (during the developmental period or adulthood) or biological underpinnings (i.e. gene deletion or overexpression of candidate genes, targeted lesions of brain areas, optogenetic control of specific neuronal populations, etc.). These manipulations can alter specific behavioural and biological outcomes that can be related to different symptomatic and pathophysiological dimensions of major depression. However, animal models of major depression display substantial shortcomings that contribute to the lack of innovative pharmacological approaches in recent decades and which hamper our capabilities to investigate treatment-resistant depression. Here, we discuss the validity of these models, review putative models of treatment-resistant depression, major depression subtypes and recurrent depression. Furthermore, we identify future challenges regarding new paradigms such as those proposing dimensional rather than categorical approaches to depression.


#Animal models #Antidepressant #Depression #Treatment-resistant depression Validity

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