Strain and locomotor speed affect over-ground locomotion in intact rats

Physiol Behav. 2007 Dec 5;92(5):993-1001. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2007.07.018. Epub 2007 Aug 19.


A variety of animal models for neurological disease and injury exist and locomotor performance is an important outcome parameter in studies employing these models. The CatWalk, an automated quantitative gait analysis method is a method to study over-ground locomotor performance in large groups of animals. In the present study, we used the CatWalk which allowed us to investigate strain differences in over-ground locomotion in three commonly used strains of laboratory rat (i.e. Lewis, Wistar and Sprague-Dawley rats) based on objective data-analysis in a large number of animals. The present results revealed marked strain differences on the static paw parameters; base-of-support, and the relative paw position. Furthermore, strain differences were noted on the static parameter stride length and the dynamic parameters stance-, swing- and stepcycle duration, which are due logically to morphological differences between strains. The parameters related to coordination did not reveal any differences between the strains. Furthermore, the swing duration and the cruciate and alternate patterns i.e. regular step patterns Ca ("cruciate" pattern type a) and Ab ("alternate" pattern type b) were shown to be differentially affected by the locomotor speed. We conclude that differences in gait traits exist between the three laboratory rat strains investigated and several of the examined gait parameters showed strain dependent interdependency with locomotor speed.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Body Weight
  • Locomotion / physiology*
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Lew
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Species Specificity
  • Statistics as Topic