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Cross-species anxiety tests in psychiatry: pitfalls and promises

Bach, DR; (2021) Cross-species anxiety tests in psychiatry: pitfalls and promises. Molecular Psychiatry 10.1038/s41380-021-01299-4. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Behavioural anxiety tests in non-human animals are used for anxiolytic drug discovery, and to investigate the neurobiology of threat avoidance. Over the past decade, several of them were translated to humans with three clinically relevant goals: to assess potential efficacy of candidate treatments in healthy humans; to develop diagnostic tests or biomarkers; and to elucidate the pathophysiology of anxiety disorders. In this review, we scrutinise these promises and compare seven anxiety tests that are validated across species: five approach-avoidance conflict tests, unpredictable shock anticipation, and the social intrusion test in children. Regarding the first goal, three tests appear suitable for anxiolytic drug screening in humans. However, they have not become part of the drug development pipeline and achieving this may require independent confirmation of predictive validity and cost-effectiveness. Secondly, two tests have shown potential to measure clinically relevant individual differences, but their psychometric properties, predictive value, and clinical applicability need to be clarified. Finally, cross-species research has not yet revealed new evidence that the physiology of healthy human behaviour in anxiety tests relates to the physiology of anxiety symptoms in patients. To summarise, cross-species anxiety tests could be rendered useful for drug screening and for development of diagnostic instruments. Using these tests for aetiology research in healthy humans or animals needs to be queried and may turn out to be unrealistic.

Type: Article
Title: Cross-species anxiety tests in psychiatry: pitfalls and promises
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/s41380-021-01299-4
Publisher version: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41380-021-01299-4
Language: English
Additional information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Keywords: Depression, Neuroscience
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Imaging Neuroscience
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10135764
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