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Passive Response to Social Stress Linked to Depression

Last Updated: March 11, 2010.

Rats that are more passive in response to social stress exhibit signs of depression that may be associated with the regulation of corticotropin-releasing factor, a hormone that initiates the endocrine branch of the stress response, according to a study published online Feb. 16 in Endocrinology.

THURSDAY, March 11 (HealthDay News) -- Rats that are more passive in response to social stress exhibit signs of depression that may be associated with the regulation of corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF), a hormone that initiates the endocrine branch of the stress response, according to a study published online Feb. 16 in Endocrinology.

Susan K. Wood, Ph.D., and colleagues from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia used the resident-intruder model of defeat as a model of social stress in homogeneous adult male rats to investigate biological factors associated with vulnerability or resiliency to social stress-induced psychopathologies.

Based on the average latency to assume a subordinate posture signaling defeat, the researchers found that 42 percent of rats had short defeat latencies of less than 300 seconds, and 58 percent had longer latencies of greater than 300 seconds. Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal dysregulation, evidence of CRF hypersecretion, and behavior similar to melancholic depression were associated with short latency, while reduced efficacy of the CRF system was associated with the proactive behavior in resisting defeat found in long latency.

"Together, these data suggest that inherent differences in stress reactivity, perhaps as a result of differences in CRF regulation, may predict long-term consequences of social stress and vulnerability to depressive-like symptoms," Wood and colleagues conclude.

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