The contribution of an animal model toward uncovering biological risk factors for PTSD

Hagit Cohen, Michael A. Matar, Gal Richter-Levin, Joseph Zohar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Clinical studies of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have elicited proposed risk factors for developing PTSD in the aftermath of stress exposure. Generally, these risk factors have arisen from retrospective analysis of premorbid characteristics of study populations. A valid animal model of PTSD can complement clinical studies and help to elucidate issues, such as the contribution of proposed risk factors, in ways which are not practicable in the clinical arena. Important qualities of animal models include the possibility to conduct controlled prospective studies, easy access to postmortem brains, and the availability of genetically manipulated subjects, which can be tailored to specific needs. When these qualities are further complemented by an approach which defines phenomenologic criteria to address the variance in individual response pattern and magnitude, enabling the animal subjects to be classified into definable groups for focused study, the model acquires added validity. This article presents an overview of a series of studies in such an animal model which examine the contribution of two proposed risk factors and the value of two early postexposure pharmacological manipulations on the prevalence rates of subjects displaying an extreme magnitude of behavioral response to a predator stress paradigm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-350
Number of pages16
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
StatePublished - Jul 2006


  • Animal model
  • Anisomycin
  • Early-life stress
  • Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis
  • Memory consolidation
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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