Brown Institute for Brain Science

Sucrose Preference Test

Rationale of Test

This task is used as in indicator of anhedonia (lack of interest in rewarding stimuli), which is present in some forms of affective disorder, including depression. In this task we assess the animal interest in seeking out a sweet rewarding drink relative to plain drinking water. A bias toward the sweetened drink is typical, failure to do so is indicative of anhedonia/depression.

Apparatus

Sucrose preference testing is carried out in the animals home cage. For the task, mice are presented with 2 dual bearing sipper tubes. One tube contains plain drinking water, and the second contains a 2-4% sucrose solution.

Procedure

Prior to beginning testing, mice are habituated to the presence of two drinking bottles (one containing 2% sucrose and the other water) for 3 d in their home cage. Following this acclimation, mice have the free choice of either drinking the 2% sucrose solution or plain water for a period of 4 days. Water and sucrose solution intake is measured daily, and the positions of two bottles is switched daily to reduce any confound produced by a side bias. Sucrose preference is calculated as a percentage of the volume of sucrose intake over the total volume of fluid intake and averaged over the 4 days of testing.

Interpretation

A bias toward the sweetened drink is typical, failure to do so is indicative of anhedonia/depression.

Relevant Controls

Care should be taken to assess group differences in motor function, gustation, and basal food/fluid intake. Recent reports suggest that deficits in taste may not significantly impact formation of preference on this task.

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