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Meta-analysis of Some Standard Animal Models for the Research of Affective Disorders

Conducted by:

Dr. Yelena Stukalin, Prof. Haim Einat / School of Behavioral Science

Animal models are critical tools in the research of disease including in the study of affective disorders.  Such models serve to explore the underlying biology of disease as well as to screen for novel treatments.  For a model to be helpful, it is important to verify its validity and reproducibility. One axis of validity is external validity, the extent to which the results of a study can be generalized to and across other situations. One way to evaluate external validity is with systematic reviews and meta-analysis of available data.  Such studies are very common for clinical trials but not used enough in animal models research.  In that context, the objective of the current study is to examine the external validity of two frequently used screening models for antidepressants and mood stabilizers effects, the forced swim test (FST) and the tail suspension test (TST). We screened the literature and identified studies that tested the effects of prototypic antidepressants and mood stabilizers in these models in mice. We conducted a meta-analysis using the computed effect sizes of these studies.

Our results show that both models are valid to explore effects of drugs in a categorical manner (effective or not effective) but are not accurate enough to clearly offer a quantitative appraisal of the effects of different doses or strains.  These results should be considered when data from these models in extrapolated to human studies.

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