Single prolonged stress: Toward an animal model of posttraumatic stress disorder

Shigeto Yamamoto, Shigeru Morinobu, Shiro Takei, Manabu Fuchikami, Aya Matsuki, Shigeto Yamawaki, Israel Liberzon

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

257 Scopus citations


Although selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are reported to be effective in decreasing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, a subgroup of PTSD patients remain chronically symptomatic and maintain conditioned fear responses to traumatic stimuli. In this context, the establishment of an appropriate animal model of PTSD is necessary to promote better understanding of the mechanisms of the disorder and to facilitate the development of more effective therapeutic alternatives to SSRIs. Although no single widely accepted animal model of PTSD has been established to date, the single prolonged stress (SPS) animal model has been partially validated as a model for PTSD. SPS rats mimic the pathophysiological abnormalities and behavioral characteristics of PTSD, such as enhanced anxiety-like behavior and glucocorticoid negative feedback, and they exhibit the expected therapeutic response to paroxetine on enhanced fear memory. In addition, SPS rats exhibit enhanced freezing in response to contextual fear conditioning, and impaired extinction of fear memory, which is alleviated by D-cycloserine. The enhanced consolidation and impaired extinction of fear memory found in SPS rats suggests that this model has additional value because recent studies of PTSD indicate that memory abnormalities are a central feature. In this study, we summarize the behavioral and pathophysiological PTSD-like symptoms in SPS, focusing on memory abnormalities, and evaluate the validity of SPS as an animal model of PTSD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1110-1117
Number of pages8
JournalDepression and Anxiety
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2009


  • Animal model
  • Contextual fear
  • Fear extinction
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Single prolonged stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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