Establishment of Neurobehavioral Assessment System in Tree Shrew SCT Model

J Mol Neurosci. 2020 Mar;70(3):308-319. doi: 10.1007/s12031-019-01414-9. Epub 2019 Dec 16.


Tree shrews, possessing higher developed motor function than rats, were more suitable to study neurological behavior after spinal cord injury (SCI). Here, we established a feasible behavioral assessment method to detect the degree of ethology recovery in tree shrew subjected to spinal cord transection (SCT). Tree shrews were divided into normal group, sham group, and SCT group. The tree shrew in sham group was subjected to laminectomy without SCI, while the tree shrews in the SCT group were subjected to a complete SCT in thoracic 10 (T10). A novel neurobehavior assessment scale was established, in which, the behavior index including slow advancement, fast advancement, standing, shaking head, voluntary jump, lateral movement, and tail status, was determined, respectively. Meanwhile, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was applied to observe the structure of the spinal cord, and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI)-based white matter mapping was used to show the fibers of the spinal cord. As a result, a marked decrease in locomotor function and consciousness was seen in tree shrews with SCT, and the detection of MRI showed the collapsing of nerve fibers after SCT is completely cut and there is corresponding to the behavior change. Together, the present study provided a novel and feasible method that can be used to assess the neurobehavior in SCT model from tree shrews, which may be useful to the SCI translational study in future preclinic trial.

Keywords: Motor function; Neurobehavioral assessment scale; Spinal cord injury; Tree shrew.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Movement
  • Shrews / physiology*
  • Spinal Cord / diagnostic imaging
  • Spinal Cord / pathology
  • Spinal Cord / surgery
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / etiology
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / physiopathology*