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Keywords:

  • Anxiety;
  • biochemical stress markers;
  • Mouse Defense Test Battery;
  • panic;
  • Ts65Dn mice

Hyperactivity is a feature frequently reported in behavioral studies on the Ts65Dn (TS) mouse, the most widely accepted model of Down syndrome, when tested in anxiety-provoking situations such as the plus-maze and the open-field tests. Although this behavior could be considered as an expression of reduced anxiety, it has been considered as a consequence of a lack of behavioral inhibition and/or reduced attention. This study addressed anxiety and panic behavior of male and female TS mice by evaluating serum biochemical parameters and behavioral responses to a predator in the Mouse Defense Test Battery. Flight, risk assessment, defensive threat/attack and escape attempts were measured during and after rat confrontation. When confronted to a rat, male TS mice showed similar biochemical and behavioral responses as control mice. However, female control and TS mice presented lower serum adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) levels under basal conditions and higher corticosterone levels after predator exposure than male mice. Thus, there was a larger increase in ACTH and corticosterone levels after predator exposure with respect to the undisturbed condition in females than in males. In addition, TS females showed some alterations in defensive behaviors after predator exposure. The results emphasize the need to consider gender as a confounding factor in the behavioral assessment of TS mice.