Assessment of depression in a rodent model of spinal cord injury. Academic Article uri icon


  • Despite an increased incidence of depression in patients after spinal cord injury (SCI), there is no animal model of depression after SCI. To address this, we used a battery of established tests to assess depression after a rodent contusion injury. Subjects were acclimated to the tasks, and baseline scores were collected before SCI. Testing was conducted on days 9-10 (acute) and 19-20 (chronic) postinjury. To categorize depression, subjects' scores on each behavioral measure were averaged across the acute and chronic stages of injury and subjected to a principal component analysis. This analysis revealed a two-component structure, which explained 72.2% of between-subjects variance. The data were then analyzed with a hierarchical cluster analysis, identifying two clusters that differed significantly on the sucrose preference, open field, social exploration, and burrowing tasks. One cluster (9 of 26 subjects) displayed characteristics of depression. Using these data, a discriminant function analysis was conducted to derive an equation that could classify subjects as "depressed" on days 9-10. The discriminant function was used in a second experiment examining whether the depression-like symptoms could be reversed with the antidepressant, fluoxetine. Fluoxetine significantly decreased immobility in the forced swim test (FST) in depressed subjects identified with the equation. Subjects that were depressed and treated with saline displayed significantly increased immobility on the FST, relative to not depressed, saline-treated controls. These initial experiments validate our tests of depression, generating a powerful model system for further understanding the relationships between molecular changes induced by SCI and the development of depression.

published proceedings

  • J Neurotrauma

author list (cited authors)

  • Luedtke, K., Bouchard, S. M., Woller, S. A., Funk, M. K., Aceves, M., & Hook, M. A.

citation count

  • 43

complete list of authors

  • Luedtke, Kelsey||Bouchard, Sioui Maldonado||Woller, Sarah A||Funk, Mary Katherine||Aceves, Miriam||Hook, Michelle A

publication date

  • January 2014