Multimodal characterization of Yucatan minipig behavior and physiology through maturation

Sci Rep. 2021 Nov 22;11(1):22688. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-00782-w.


Brain injuries induced by external forces are particularly challenging to model experimentally. In recent decades, the domestic pig has been gaining popularity as a highly relevant animal model to address the pathophysiological mechanisms and the biomechanics associated with head injuries. Understanding cognitive, motor, and sensory aspects of pig behavior throughout development is crucial for evaluating cognitive and motor deficits after injury. We have developed a comprehensive battery of tests to characterize the behavior and physiological function of the Yucatan minipig throughout maturation. Behavioral testing included assessments of learning and memory, executive functions, circadian rhythms, gait analysis, and level of motor activity. We applied traditional behavioral apparatus and analysis methods, as well as state-of-the-art sensor technologies to report on motion and activity, and artificial intelligent approaches to analyze behavior. We studied pigs from 16 weeks old through sexual maturity at 35 weeks old. The results show multidimensional characterization of minipig behavior, and how it develops and changes with age. This animal model may capitulate the biomechanical consideration and phenotype of head injuries in the developing brain and can drive forward the field of understanding pathophysiological mechanisms and developing new therapies to accelerate recovery in children who have suffered head trauma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena / physiology
  • Brain Injuries
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Gait / physiology
  • Gait Analysis / methods
  • Male
  • Movement / physiology
  • Open Field Test / physiology
  • Sexual Maturation / physiology*
  • Swine / growth & development*
  • Swine, Miniature / growth & development*