Diurnal rodents as an advantageous model for affective disorders: novel data from diurnal degu (Octodon degus)

Tal Ashkenazy-Frolinger, Haim Einat, Noga Kronfeld-Schor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Circadian rhythms are strongly associated with affective disorders and recent studies have suggested utilization of diurnal rodents as model animal for circadian rhythms-related domains of these disorders. Previous work with the diurnal fat sand rat and Nile grass rat demonstrated that short photoperiod conditions result in behavioral changes including anxiety- and depression-like behavior. The present study examined the effect of manipulating day length on activity rhythms and behavior of the diurnal degu. Animals were housed for 3 weeks under either a short photoperiod (5-h:19-h LD) or a neutral photoperiod (12-h:12-h LD) and then evaluated by sweet solution test and the forced swim test for depression-like behavior, and in the light/dark box and open field for anxiety-like behavior. Results indicate that short photoperiod induced depression-like behavior in the forced swim test and the sweet solution preference test and anxiety-like behavior in the open field compared with animals maintained in a neutral photoperiod. No effects were shown in the light/dark box. Short photoperiod-acclimated degu showed reduced total activity duration and activity was not restricted to the light phase. The present study further supports the utilization of diurnal rodents to model circadian rhythms-related affective change. Beyond the possible diversity in the mechanisms underlying diurnality in different animals, there are now evidences that in three different diurnal species, the fat sand rat, the grass Nile rat and the degu, shortening of photoperiod results in the appearance of anxiety- and depression-like behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-45
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neural Transmission
StatePublished - 10 Aug 2015


  • Animal model
  • Anxiety
  • Circadian rhythm
  • Depression
  • Diurnal
  • Nocturnal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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