Social Interaction SI Test

The SI test65 was the first ethologically based anxiety model that used natural behavior as a dependent variable. In general, rats are placed together in pairs in a test arena and the time spent interacting with each other (sniffing, grooming, following) is recorded. Environmental manipulations can increase or decrease the amount of time that the rats interact thus allowing for assessment of either anxiolytic (increased interaction) or anxiogenic (decreased interaction) effects of the NCE. The four test conditions are: low light, familiar arena (LF lowest level of anxiety); high light, familiar and low light, unfamiliar arena (HU, LU moderate anxiety); and high light, unfamiliar arena (HU highest level of anxiety). To evaluate the anxiolytic effect of compounds, the HU environment is selected while anxiogenic effects can be evaluated using the LF condition. Although this test is relatively easy to set up and run, there are a number of behavioral (single versus grouped housing) and environmental (noise, stress) factors that must be addressed prior to using the model to evaluate the anxiolytic/anxiogenic effects of drugs (for review see 65). In addition to the rat SI test, this test has also been developed for use in mice and gerbils. A range of GABAa positive allosteric modulators are effective anxiolytics in the SI test after subchronic (5 days) but not acute administration since the sedative effects seen after acute dosage interferes with the measurement of SI.65 Buspirone has anxiolytic effects at low doses and anxiogenic effects at higher doses in the SI test.

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