Severe, multimodal stress exposure induces PTSD-like characteristics in a mouse model of single prolonged stress

Shane A. Perrine, Andrew L. Eagle, Sophie A. George, Kostika Mulo, Robert J. Kohler, Justin Gerard, Arman Harutyunyan, Steven M. Hool, Laura L. Susick, Brandy L. Schneider, Farhad Ghoddoussi, Matthew P. Galloway, Israel Liberzon, Alana C. Conti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Appropriate animal models of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are needed because human studies remain limited in their ability to probe the underlying neurobiology of PTSD. Although the single prolonged stress (SPS) model is an established rat model of PTSD, the development of a similarly-validated mouse model emphasizes the benefits and cross-species utility of rodent PTSD models and offers unique methodological advantages to that of the rat. Therefore, the aims of this study were to develop and describe a SPS model for mice and to provide data that support current mechanisms relevant to PTSD. The mouse single prolonged stress (mSPS) paradigm, involves exposing C57Bl/6 mice to a series of severe, multimodal stressors, including 2 h restraint, 10 min group forced swim, exposure to soiled rat bedding scent, and exposure to ether until unconsciousness. Following a 7-day undisturbed period, mice were tested for cue-induced fear behavior, effects of paroxetine on cue-induced fear behavior, extinction retention of a previously extinguished fear memory, dexamethasone suppression of corticosterone (CORT) response, dorsal hippocampal glucocorticoid receptor protein and mRNA expression, and prefrontal cortex glutamate levels. Exposure to mSPS enhanced cue-induced fear, which was attenuated by oral paroxetine treatment. mSPS also disrupted extinction retention, enhanced suppression of stress-induced CORT response, increased mRNA expression of dorsal hippocampal glucocorticoid receptors and decreased prefrontal cortex glutamate levels. These data suggest that the mSPS model is a translationally-relevant model for future PTSD research with strong face, construct, and predictive validity. In summary, mSPS models characteristics relevant to PTSD and this severe, multimodal stress modifies fear learning in mice that coincides with changes in the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, brain glucocorticoid systems, and glutamatergic signaling in the prefrontal cortex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)228-237
Number of pages10
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
StatePublished - Apr 15 2016


  • Fear conditioning
  • Glucocorticoid
  • Glutamate
  • Mice
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Single prolonged stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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