DOI: 10.1111/cns.14443 ISSN:

A quantitative and T‐pattern analysis of anxiety‐like behavior in male GAERS, NEC, and Wistar rats bred under the same conditions, against a commercially available Wistar control group in the hole board and elevated plus maze tests

Maurizio Casarrubea, Manuela Radic, Tatiana Pinto Morais, Erika Mifsud, Eleonora Cuboni, Stefania Aiello, Giuseppe Crescimanno, Vincenzo Crunelli, Giuseppe Di Giovanni
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology



The Genetic Absence Epilepsy Rats from Strasbourg (GAERS) are an inbred polygenic model of childhood absence epilepsy (CAE), which, as their non‐epileptic control (NEC) rats, are derived from Wistar rats. While the validity of GAERS in reproducing absence seizures is well established, its use as a model for CAE psychiatric comorbidities has been subject to conflicting findings. Differences in colonies, experimental procedures, and the use of diverse controls from different breeders may account for these disparities. Therefore, in this study, we compared GAERS, NEC, and Wistar bred in the same animal facility with commercially available Wistar (Cm Wistar) as a third control.


We performed hole board (HB) and elevated plus maze (EPM) tests that were analyzed with standard quantitative and T‐pattern analysis in male, age‐matched Cm Wistar and GAERS, NEC, and Wistar, bred under the same conditions, to rule out the influence of different housing factors and provide extra information on the structure of anxiety‐like behavior of GAERS rats.


Quantitative analysis showed that GAERS and NEC had similar low anxiety‐like behavior when compared to Cm Wistar but not to Wistar rats, although a higher hole‐focused exploration was revealed in NEC. T‐pattern analysis showed that GAERS, NEC, and Wistar had a similar anxiety status, whereas GAERS and NEC exhibited major differences with Cm Wistar but not Wistar rats. EPM results indicated that GAERS and NEC also have similar low anxiety compared to Cm Wistar and/or Wistar rats. Nevertheless, the analysis of the T‐pattern containing open‐arm entry showed GAERS and Wistar to be less anxious than NEC and Cm Wistar rats.


To summarize, comorbid anxiety may not be present in male GAERS rats. This study also highlighted the importance of including a control Wistar group bred under the same conditions when evaluating their behavior, as using Wistar rats from commercial breeders can lead to misleading results.

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