Behavioural and physiological consequences of a single social defeat in Roman high- and low-avoidance rats

P. Meerlo, G.J.F. Overkamp, J.M. Koolhaas

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The behavioural and physiological consequences of a single social defeat were studied in Roman high-avoidance (RHA) and Roman low-avoidance (RLA) rats, two rat lines with a genetically determined difference in the way of responding to or coping with stressors. Animals were subjected to social defeat by placing them in the cage of an aggressive male conspecific for 1 h. In both RHA and RLA rats, social defeat induced a profound increase in body temperature during the circadian resting phase, lasting for up to 10 days after the conflict. The increase in resting temperature was paralleled by a slight decrease in spontaneous home cage activity. Food intake and growth were suppressed for a number of days, resulting in a long-lasting lower body weight compared to non-stressed control animals. An open field test 2 days after defeat showed a social stress-induced decrease in locomotion in a novel environment. Despite the well-known differentiation between RHA and RLA rats in their behavioural and neuroendocrine response pattern to acute environmental challenges, the present study did not show major differences in the long-term consequences of social defeat. (C) 1997 Elsevier Science Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-168
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 1997


  • stress
  • stress pathology
  • depression
  • animal model
  • resident-intruder paradigm
  • aggression
  • social stress
  • social defeat
  • individual differences
  • genetic differences
  • coping
  • coping styles
  • Roman rat lines
  • Roman high-avoidance rats
  • Roman low-avoidance rats
  • behavioral changes
  • open field behavior
  • exploration
  • food intake
  • body weight
  • radiotelemetry
  • circadian rhythms
  • body temperature rhythm
  • activity rhythm

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