An anxiety-like phenotype in mice selectively bred for aggression.
Using selective bi-directional breeding procedures, two different lines of mice were developed. The NC900 line is highly reactive and attacks their social partners without provocation, whereas aggression in NC100 animals is uncommon in social environments. The enhanced reactivity of NC900 mice suggests that emotionality may have been selected with aggression. As certain forms of anxiety promote exaggerated defensive responses, we tested NC900 mice for the presence of an anxiety-like phenotype. In the open field, light-dark exploration, and zero maze tests, NC900 mice displayed anxiety-like responses. These animals were less responsive to the anxiolytic actions of diazepam in the zero maze than NC100 animals; diazepam also reduced the reactivity and attack behaviors of NC900 mice. The NC900 mice had reduced diazepam-sensitive GABA(A) receptor binding in brain regions associated with aggression and anxiety. Importantly, there was a selective reduction in levels of the GABA(A) receptor alpha(2) subunit protein in NC900 frontal cortex and amygdala; no changes in alpha(1) or gamma(2) subunit proteins were observed. These findings suggest that reductions in the alpha(2) subunit protein in selected brain regions may underlie the anxiety and aggressive phenotype of NC900 mice. Since anxiety and aggression are comorbid in certain psychiatric conditions, such as borderline personality and posttraumatic stress disorder, investigations with NC900 mice may provide new insights into basic mechanisms that underlie these and related psychiatric conditions.
Nehrenberg, DL; Rodriguiz, RM; Cyr, M; Zhang, X; Lauder, JM; Gariépy, J-L; Wetsel, WC
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