Strain-dependent changes in acoustic startle response and its plasticity across adolescence in Mice

Susanna Pietropaolo, Wim E. Crusio
Behav Genet. 2009-07-30; 39(6): 623-631
DOI: 10.1007/s10519-009-9291-y

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Acoustic startle response and its plasticity, e.g., habituation and prepulse
inhibition (PPI), have been extensively investigated, being altered in several
neuropsychiatric disorders. Yet, little is known about the expression of
startle-related behaviors during adolescence, a critical phase in the development
of a variety of major neuropsychiatric pathologies. The present study
investigated for the first time startle behaviors across adolescence in male mice
of the inbred strains C57BL/6J and DBA/2J. Pre-pubertal (4 weeks of age) mice
displayed reduced startle reactivity and altered PPI compared to adult animals (8
weeks of age), but these effects were observed only in the C57BL/6J strain.
Strain differences were also clearly detected for startle response, habituation,
and PPI. All effects were modulated by the intensity of the pulse stimulus and
were not confounded by differences in anxiety levels. Our data demonstrate that
genetic factors and the early adolescent phase are critically important
considerations in the design of mouse models of neuropsychiatric disturbances.


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