The postweaning social isolation in C57BL/6 mice: Preferential vulnerability in the male sex

Susanna Pietropaolo, Philipp Singer, Joram Feldon, Kay Yan Benjamin Yee

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Social deprivation during early life can severely affect mental health later in adulthood, leading to the development of behavioural traits associated with several major psychiatric disorders including schizophrenia. This has led to the application of social isolation in laboratory animals to model the impact of environmental factors on the aetiopathology of schizophrenia. However, controversy exists over the precise behavioural profile and the robustness of some of the reported effects of social isolation rearing. Materials and methods: Here, we evaluated the efficacy of postweaning social isolation to induce schizophrenia-related behavioural deficits in C57BL/6 mice of both sexes. Results: The effects of social isolation clearly differed between sexes: isolated male but not female mice exhibited multiple habituation deficits and enhanced locomotor reaction to amphetamine. Discussion: The preferential vulnerability in the male sex corresponds well with the earlier disease onset and poorer prognosis in male relative to female schizophrenic patients. In contrast, we observed no evidence for a disruption of sensorimotor gating in the prepulse inhibition paradigm despite the efficacy of social isolation to alter startle reactivity. With both success and failure in the induction of schizophrenia-related endophenotypes, the present study thus provides important characterizations and qualifications to the application of the social isolation model in mice. Conclusions: We conclude that social isolation in mice represents a valuable tool for the examination of candidate genes within the context of the "two-hit" hypothesis of the aetiological processes in schizophrenia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)613-628
Number of pages16
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Amphetamine
  • Anxiety
  • Mouse
  • Open field
  • Prepulse inhibition
  • Schizophrenia
  • Sex differences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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