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Impact of stress resilience and susceptibility on fear learning, anxiety, and alcohol intake


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can develop after exposure to traumatic events and severely impacts the quality of life. PTSD is frequently comorbid with substance use disorders, with alcoholism being particularly common. However, not everyone who experiences trauma develops PTSD and the factors that render individuals susceptible or resilient to the effects of stress are unknown although gender appears to play an important role. Rodent models of stress exposure such as stress-enhanced fear learning (SEFL) recapitulate some aspects of PTSD symptomology, making them an invaluable tool for studying this disorder. This study examined whether exposure to a modified version of the SEFL procedure (4 footshocks instead of the standard 15 over 90 min) would reveal both susceptible and resilient subjects. Following stress exposure, distinct susceptible and resilient groups emerged that differed in fear learning and anxiety-related behavior as well as voluntary alcohol intake. Some aspects of stress susceptibility manifested differently in males compared to females, with susceptibility associated with increased alcohol intake in males and increased baseline anxiety in females.

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