Forced swim test
The text on this page is taken from an informal compilation of opinions of contributors to the online VOLE List. As such, they are not peer reviewed and may contain differences of opinion. Those wishing to contact the list may contact Adrian Smith.
A 2012 paper on using forced swim tests to measure the effects of anti-depressants suggests variable times for the duration of the tests, although 15 minutes seems common (Slattery & Cryan: Using the rat forced swim test to assess anti-depressant like activity in rodents). Ten years on, is the model still considered reliable, is there an industry standard for duration that is commonly used (or is this dependent on other factors), and are there any recent references for refinements and best practice for conducting FSTs?
According to Annex VIII of EU Directive 2010/63, Section III 3(m), 'forced swim or exercise tests with exhaustion as the end-point' are to be classified as severe procedures.
- Fact Sheet on the forced swim test from the British Association for Psychopharmacology, Laboratory Animal Science Association, The Physiological Society and Understanding Animal Research.
- Guiding Principles for Behavioural Laboratory Animal Science
- Recording of an interview with Professor Clare Stanford and other researchers on the subject of Animal research, antidepressants and the forced swim test.
- Sewell et al. (2021): Preclinical screening for antidepressant activity - shifting focus away from the Forced Swim Test to the use of translational biomarkers
- Trunnell & Carvalho (2021): The forced swim test has poor accuracy for identifying novel antidepressants
- Carvalho et al. (2021): Time to abolish the forced swim test in rats for depression research?
- Nature News (2019): Depression researchers rethink popular mouse swim tests
- Suman et al. (2018): Failure to detect the action of antidepressants in the forced swim test in Swiss mice
- Flandreau & Toth (2017): Animal models of PTSD: a critical review
- Molendijk & de Kloek (2015): Immobility in the forced swim test is adaptive and does not reflect depression