The Unpredictable Chronic Mild Stress Protocol for Inducing Anhedonia in Mice

Or Burstein, Ravid Doron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Depression is a highly prevalent and debilitating condition, only partially addressed by current pharmacotherapies. The lack of response to treatment by many patients prompts the need to develop new therapeutic alternatives and to better understand the etiology of the disorder. Pre-clinical models with translational merits are rudimentary for this task. Here we present a protocol for the unpredictable chronic mild stress (UCMS) method in mice. In this protocol, adolescent mice are chronically exposed to interchanging unpredictable mild stressors. Resembling the pathogenesis of depression in humans, stress exposure during the sensitive period of mice adolescence instigates a depressive-like phenotype evident in adulthood. UCMS can be used for screenings of antidepressants on the variety of depressive-like behaviors and neuromolecular indices. Among the more prominent tests to assess depressive-like behavior in rodents is the sucrose preference test (SPT), which reflects anhedonia (core symptom of depression). The SPT will also be presented in this protocol. The ability of UCMS to induce anhedonia, instigate long-term behavioral deficits and enable reversal of these deficits via chronic (but not acute) treatment with antidepressants strengthens the protocol's validity compared to other animal protocols for inducing depressive-like behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number140
StatePublished - 24 Oct 2018
Externally publishedYes


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