The Roman high- and low-avoidance rats differ in the sensitivity to shock-induced suppression of drinking and to the anxiogenic effect of pentylenetetrazole

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Abstract

The Roman high- (RHA) and low-avoidance (RLA) outbred rat lines are selected for respectively rapid vs. poor acquisition of active avoidant behavior. Emotional reactivity appears to be the most prominent behavioral difference between the two lines, with RLA rats being more fearful/anxious than their RHA counterparts. Accordingly, here we show that shock-induced inhibition of drinking behavior in the Vogel's test is significantly more pronounced in RLA than RHA rats. Thus, unpunished drinking activity is similar in both lines (38.1±0.9 and 36.4±0.6lickingperiods/3min in RLA and RHA rats, respectively), whereas under punished conditions (0.05–1.00mA electric shocks delivered through the drinking tube) a more robust decrease in drinking behavior is observed in RLA vs. RHA rats. Moreover, fear-related behaviors like freezing and self-grooming are more frequent in RLA than RHA rats throughout the test. Similar results are obtained with the inbred RHA-I and RLA-I rats, which have been selected and bred through brother/sister mating of the outbred lines. In keeping with the above findings, we also show that, compared with their RHA counterparts, the outbred RLA rats are similarly responsive to the anticonflict effect of diazepam but more responsive to the proconflict effect of pentylenetetrazole in the Vogel's test. Collectively, these results reveal another behavioral trait distinguishing RHA from RLA rats and add experimental support to the view that the Roman lines/strains are a valid genetic model for the study of the neural underpinnings of fear/anxiety- and stress-related behaviors.

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