Comparison of rats selectively bred for high and low ethanol intake in a forced-swim-test model of depression: Effects of desipramine

Claire D. Godfrey, Janice C. Froehlich, Robert B. Stewart, Ting Kai Li, James M. Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

23 Scopus citations


This investigation examined if there is a relationship between selective breeding for high or low alcohol intake and immobility in a forced-swim-test (i.e., 'behavioral despair') model of depression. Time spent immobile in a water-filled cylinder was measured in the alcohol-preferring (P) and nonpreferring (NP) lines of rats, and in the high-alcohol-drinking (HAD) and low-alcohol-drinking (LAD) lines. Each rat was tested for 2 10-min trials administered 24 h apart, and pretreatment with saline or desipramine (10.0 or 20.0 mg desipramine/kg b.wt. IF) also was evaluated. Drug was administered immediately after Trial I and again 1 h before Trial 2. When tested without pretreatment in Trial 1 or with saline pretreatment in Trial 2, NP rats spent significantly more time immobile than did P rats, but no comparable line differences were found when HAD and LAD rats were tested. Desipramine pretreatment reduced the time spent immobile in rats of the 2 alcohol-nonpreferring lines (i.e., the NP and LAD rats), but had no significant effect in rats of the 2 alcohol-preferring lines (the P and HAD rats). These findings do not support the hypothesis that there is a functional relationship between high alcohol drinking and susceptibility to 'behavioral despair' as measured by the forced-swim test. The results with desipramine suggest that selection for high alcohol intake may be associated with insensitivity to desipramine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)729-733
Number of pages5
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1997


  • Alcohol-nonpreferring rats
  • Alcohol-preferring rats
  • Behavioral despair
  • Depression
  • Forced-swim test

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Physiology (medical)

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