Modeling the depressive-like state of learned helplessness in rats of different stocks

Original article

УДК 599.322/.324+616.8-008.6
DOI: 10.29296/2618723X-2022-02-03

S.O. Kotelnikova, PhD, Senior Researcher, Laboratory of Psychopharmacology,
M.S. Sadovsky, PhD student, Laboratory of Pharmacogenetics,
V.A. Kraineva*, PhD, Scientific Secretary,
E.A. Waldman**, Doctor of Medical Sciences, Professor, Head of the Department for the Training of Scientific and Pedagogical Personnel,

Federal State Budgetary Institution «Research Zakusov Institute of Pharmacology»,
125315 Moscow, Baltiyskaya str. 8, Russia;

* e-mail: [email protected]; ** [email protected]

Keywords: learned helplessness depressive-like state rats Sprague Dawley rats Wistar outbred rats


The study was carried out in accordance with the state order of the V. V. Zakusov» (topic 0521-2019-0002). The experiments were carried out in compliance with the norms of working with animals and approved by the Commission on Biomedical Ethics of the V.V. Zakusov» (protocol No. 5 dated March 19, 2020). The authors declare no conflict of interest.

For citation:

Kotelnikova S.O., Sadovsky M.S., Kraineva V.A., Waldman E.A. Modeling the depressive-like state of learned helplessness in rats of different stocks. Laboratory Animals for Science. 2022; 2.


The «learned helplessness» (LH) model in rats is widely used to assess depression-like behavior and the effects of antidepressants. A comparison of the state of learned helplessness parameters in outbred, Wistar and Sprague Dawley rats was assessed on the days 3 and 14 after exposure to inescapable electric shock. In outbred albino rats on the 3‑d day 34% of animals reached the LH criterion — 25 and more escape failures among the 30 trials, on the day 14 it was 22% LH rats. In Sprague Dawley on the day 3 it was 25% and on the day 14–28% LH rats. In Wistar rats there were no animals which reached the criterion of LH. The latency of first escape and number of escape failures in both LH outbred and Sprague Dawley rats on the day 3 was significantly higher, and the number of escapes lower than in control group. On the day 14 only in Sprague Dawley rats all these differences remained to be significant. In LH outbred rats on the day 14 there were no differences with control group in first escape latency. The parameters of behavior of the control groups in outbred and Sprague Dawley rats did not differ. In our study Sprague Dawley rats were more predisposed to the development and retention of depressive-like LH state compared to outbred albino rats. However, the percentage of LH rats in both tested groups was not high enough and it is a limitation for the use of LH model for studying the effects of antidepressants. It was suggested that the division of rats according to the type of activity in stress conditions and then use only low-active animals for development of the LH depressive-like state could increase the effectiveness of the method.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Authors contribution

S.O. Kotelnikova, M.S. Sadovsky — Development of study design, collection, analysis and interpretation of experimental data, statistical processing of data, preparation of material for publication.
V.A. Kraineva — analysis and interpretation of experimental data, preparation of the text for publication.
E.A. Valdman — scientific management of the work as a whole, approval of the final version of the article for publication.


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Received: 2022-03-17
Reviewed: 2022-05-30
Accepted for publication: 2022-06-07

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