Diazepam Effects on Anxiety-related Defensive Behavior of Male and Female High and Low Open-Field Activity Inbred Mouse Strains. Conference Proceeding uri icon



  • Open-field activity is a commonly used measure of anxiety-related behavior in rodents. The inbred High and Low Activity strains of mice, selected for extreme differences in open-field activity, have been used as a genetic model of anxiety-related behaviors. These selected strains have been thoroughly studied through extensive behavioral testing, quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping, whole-genome sequencing, and RNA sequencing, to uncover phenotypic and genotypic differences related to anxiety-related behavior. However, the effects of anxiolytic drugs on anxiety-related behavior in these strains have not been studied previously. This study allowed us to expand on previous findings to further characterize the anxiety-related behavior of these unique strains, using an anxiolytic drug. The goal of this study was to determine whether the treatment of adult male and female High Activity (low anxiety) and Low Activity (high anxiety) mice with diazepam, an agonist at the benzodiazepine allosteric site on the GABAA receptor and a drug commonly prescribed to treat anxiety disorders in humans, led to decreases in anxiety-like defensive behavioral responses as assessed in the open-field test (OFT) and elevated plus-maze (EPM). We tested the effects of three doses of diazepam (0, 0.5, 1.0, 3.0 mg/kg, i.p.), given 30 min before behavioral testing to one High Activity strain (H2) and two Low Activity strains (L1 and L2). There was an anxiolytic effect of diazepam observed in the High Activity strain, with more entries into the open arms of the elevated plus-maze, an effect similar to that seen in common mouse strains. However, the only anxiolytic effect of diazepam seen in the Low Activity strains was a reduction in stretch attend posture (SAP). Low Activity strains also displayed freezing behavior in both the OFT and EPM. The combination of the observed freezing behavior, that was not reduced by diazepam, and the reduction in SAP seen with diazepam, suggests a more complex phenotype that includes a component of innate fear in addition to anxiety-related risk assessment behaviors. Since fear and anxiety are distinguishable traits, and both contribute to human anxiety disorders, these results provide novel insight about interpretation of previous genetic and phenotypic differences observed between the High and Low Activity strains.

publication date

  • September 7, 2023

has restriction

  • closed

Date in CU Experts

  • January 6, 2023 6:34 AM

Full Author List

  • Mehrhoff EA; Booher WC; Hutchinson J; Schumacher G; Borski C; Lowry CA; Hoeffer CA; Ehringer MA

author count

  • 8

Other Profiles

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1873-507X

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 114343