Paw-dragging: a novel, sensitive analysis of the mouse cylinder test

J Vis Exp. 2015 Apr 29;(98):e52701. doi: 10.3791/52701.

Abstract

The cylinder test is routinely used to predict focal ischemic damage to the forelimb motor cortex in rodents. When placed in the cylinder, rodents explore by rearing and touching the walls of the cylinder with their forelimb paws for postural support. Following ischemic injury to the forelimb sensorimotor cortex, rats rely more heavily on their unaffected forelimb paw for postural support resulting in fewer touches with their affected paw which is termed forelimb asymmetry. In contrast, focal ischemic damage in the mouse brain fails to result in comparable consistent deficits in forelimb asymmetry. While forelimb asymmetry deficits are infrequently observed, mice do demonstrate a novel behaviour post stroke termed "paw-dragging". Paw-dragging is the tendency for a mouse to drag its affected paw along the cylinder wall rather than directly push off from the wall when dismounting from a rear to a four-legged stance. We have previously demonstrated that paw-dragging behaviour is highly sensitive to small cortical ischemic injuries to the forelimb motor cortex. Here we provide a detailed protocol for paw-dragging analysis. We define what a paw-drag is and demonstrate how to quantify paw-dragging behaviour. The cylinder test is a simple and inexpensive test to administer and does not require pre-training or food deprivation strategies. In using paw-dragging analysis with the cylinder test, it fills a niche for predicting cortical ischemic injuries such as photothrombosis and Endothelin-1 (ET-1)-induced ischemia--two models that are ever-increasing in popularity and produce smaller focal injuries than middle cerebral artery occlusion. Finally, measuring paw-dragging behaviour in the cylinder test will allow studies of functional recovery after cortical injury using a wide cohort of transgenic mouse strains where previous forelimb asymmetry analysis has failed to detect consistent deficits.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Injuries / chemically induced
  • Brain Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Brain Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Brain Ischemia / chemically induced
  • Brain Ischemia / diagnosis
  • Brain Ischemia / physiopathology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Endothelin-1
  • Forelimb / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Motor Cortex / physiopathology
  • Rats
  • Recovery of Function
  • Stroke / chemically induced
  • Stroke / diagnosis
  • Stroke / physiopathology

Substances

  • Endothelin-1