DOI: 10.1515/hsz-2023-0190 ISSN:

Rodent models for mood disorders – understanding molecular changes by investigating social behavior

Patrick R. Reinhardt, Candy D. C. Theis, Georg Juckel, Nadja Freund
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry


Mood disorders, including depressive and bipolar disorders, are the group of psychiatric disorders with the highest prevalence and disease burden. However, their pathophysiology remains poorly understood. Animal models are an extremely useful tool for the investigation of molecular mechanisms underlying these disorders. For psychiatric symptom assessment in animals, a meaningful behavioral phenotype is needed. Social behaviors constitute naturally occurring complex behaviors in rodents and can therefore serve as such a phenotype, contributing to insights into disorder related molecular changes. In this narrative review, we give a fundamental overview of social behaviors in laboratory rodents, as well as their underlying neuronal mechanisms and their assessment. Relevant behavioral and molecular changes in models for mood disorders are presented and an outlook on promising future directions is given.

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