✓ To establish a simple and reliable method to assess the behavioral function after spinal cord injury (SCI) in mice, the authors used an automated animal movement analysis system, SCANET.
Two different SCI lesions were created in adult female BALB/c and C57BL/6 mice by transecting both the posterior columns and the left lateral and anterior funiculi or only the left lateral and anterior funiculi at T-8. Control mice underwent laminectomy only. The SCANET system consists of a cage equipped with two crossing sensor frames arranged at different heights, by which small (M1) and large (M2) horizontal movements and the vertical movement involved in rearing (RG) can be monitored. The authors assessed locomotor function by determining the M1, M2, and RG scores; to this end, they used the SCANET system and a previously established behavior test, the 21-point open-field Basso-Beattie-Bresnahan (BBB) Locomotor Rating Scale. The results indicated that the RG scores were significantly and consistently different between the spinal cord—injured and control mice, irrespective of the mouse strain or injury model, but that M1 and M2 scores were not. Moreover, there was a statistically positive correlation between the RG score and the BBB Scale score.
For the assessment of locomotor function after SCI, use of the SCANET sytem in behavioral analysis is simple and the method is highly reproducible. The analysis of vertical movement is useful for assessing the recovery of limb function in mice following thoracic hemisection.