An Economical Solution to Record and Control Wheel-Running for Group-Housed Mice

J Neurosci Methods. 2020 Feb 1;331:108482. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2019.108482. Epub 2019 Nov 13.

Abstract

Background: The effects of exercise on brain function are widely known; however, there is a need for inexpensive, practical solutions for monitoring and metering the activity of multiple mice.

New method: A contoured running wheel that has a built-in radio-frequency identification (RFID) receiver to monitor the activity of several mice in a single cage is presented. This system is scalable , the interface is easy to use, and the wheel can be dynamically locked so that each group-housed mouse receives a set exercise regimen.

Results: We were able to reliably monitor three mice that were group-housed. We were able to reliably meter the amount of exercise performed by the mice using the servo-controlled lock.

Comparison with existing methods: Current methods allow a wheel to be locked when a set distance is reached. However, an issue with this method is that the set distance includes the cumulative activity of all mice in the cage so one mouse could contribute a disproportionate amount to the total distance. Our solution ensures that the wheel is locked when an individual mouse reaches the target distance, but remains unlocked for individuals that have not reached the programmed distance.

Conclusions: The dynamic locking wheel (DynaLok) is designed to allow a researcher to provide individually designed exercise plans for multi-housed mice; therefore, users are able to house mice conventionally rather than in individual cages. DynaLok reduces animal housing costs, allows for new experimental exercise regimens to be developed, and is scalable and cost-effective.

Keywords: Behavior; Motor control; Running.