TitleAn Automated Home-Cage System to Assess Learning and Performance of a Skilled Motor Task in a Mouse Model of Huntington's Disease.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsWoodard, Cameron L., Federico Bolaños, James D. Boyd, Gergely Silasi, Timothy H. Murphy, and Lynn A. Raymond
Date Published2017 Sep-Oct

Behavioral testing is a critical step in assessing the validity of rodent models of neurodegenerative disease, as well as evaluating the efficacy of pharmacological interventions. In models of Huntington's disease (HD), a gradual progression of impairments is observed across ages, increasing the need for sensitive, high-throughput and longitudinal assessments. Recently, a number of automated systems have been developed to perform behavioral profiling of animals within their own home-cage, allowing for 24-h monitoring and minimizing experimenter interaction. However, as of yet, few of these have had functionality for the assessment of skilled motor learning, a relevant behavior for movement disorders such as HD. To address this, we assess a lever positioning task within the mouse home-cage. Animals first acquire a simple operant response, before moving to a second phase where they must learn to hold the lever for progressively longer in a rewarded position range. Testing with this paradigm has revealed the presence of distinct phenotypes in the YAC128 mouse model of HD at three early symptomatic time points. YAC128 mice at two months old, but not older, had a motor learning deficit when required to adapt their response to changes in task requirements. In contrast, six-month-old YAC128 mice had disruptions of normal circadian activity and displayed kinematic abnormalities during performance of the task, suggesting an impairment in motor control. This system holds promise for facilitating high throughput behavioral assessment of HD mouse models for preclinical therapeutic screening.

Alternate JournaleNeuro
PubMed ID28929129
PubMed Central IDPMC5602104