Mania has long been recognized as aberrant behaviour indicative of mental illness. Manic states include a variety of complex and multifaceted symptoms that challenge clear clinical distinctions. Symptoms include over-activity, hypersexuality, irritability and reduced need for sleep, with cognitive deficits recently linked to functional outcome. Current treatments have arisen through serendipity or from other disorders. Hence, treatments are not efficacious for all patients, and there is an urgent need to develop targeted therapeutics. Part of the drug discovery process is the assessment of therapeutics in animal models. Here we review pharmacological, environmental and genetic manipulations developed to test the efficacy of therapeutics in animal models of mania. The merits of these models are discussed in terms of the manipulation used and the facet of mania measured. Moreover, the predictive validity of these models is discussed in the context of differentiating drugs that succeed or fail to meet criteria as approved mania treatments. The multifaceted symptomatology of mania has not been reflected in the majority of animal models, where locomotor activity remains the primary measure. This approach has resulted in numerous false positives for putative treatments. Recent work highlights the need to utilize multivariate strategies to enable comprehensive assessment of affective and cognitive dysfunction. Advances in therapeutic treatment may depend on novel models developed with an integrated approach that includes: (i) a comprehensive battery of tests for different aspects of mania, (ii) utilization of genetic information to establish aetiological validity and (iii) objective quantification of patient behaviour with translational cross-species paradigms.
LINKED ARTICLES This article is part of a themed issue on Translational Neuropharmacology. To view the other articles in this issue visit http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bph.2011.164.issue-4