Maintaining the clinical relevance of animal models in translational studies of post-traumatic stress disorder

Hagit Cohen, Michael A. Matar, Joseph Zohar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


The diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is conditional on directly experiencing or witnessing a significantly threatening event and the presence of a certain minimal number of symptoms from each of four symptom clusters (re-experiencing, avoidance, negative cognition and mood, and hyperarousal) at least one month after the event (DSM 5) (American Psychiatric Association 2013). Only a proportion of the population exposed develops symptoms fulfilling the criteria. The individual heterogeneity in responses of stress-exposed animals suggested that adapting clearly defined and reliably reproducible "diagnostic", i.e. behavioral, criteria for animal responses would augment the clinical validity of the analysis of study data. We designed cut-off (inclusion/exclusion) behavioral criteria (CBC) which classify study subjects as being severely, minimally or partially affected by the stress paradigm, to be applied retrospectively in the analysis of behavioral data. Behavioral response classification enables the researcher to correlate (retrospectively) specific anatomic, bio-molecular and physiological parameters with the degree and pattern of the individual behavioral response, and also introduces "prevalence rates" as a valid studyparameter. The cumulative results of our studies indicate that, by classifying the data from individual subjects according to their response patterns, the animal study can more readily be translated into clinical "follow-up" studies and back again. This article will discuss the concept of the model and its background, and present a selection of studies employing and examining the model, alongside the underlying translational rationale of each.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-245
Number of pages13
JournalILAR Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Animal model
  • Anxiety
  • Behavioral criteria
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Translation research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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