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Neuroreport. 2001 Jul 3;12(9):2053-7.

Burrowing into prion disease.

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1
Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3UD, UK.

Abstract

Mice received intra-hippocampal injections of scrapie-infected brain homogenate. Open field activity increased from around week 12 post-injection. Concomitantly the tendency to displace food from a tube inside the home cage decreased. The food was generally dug out with the feet, rather than carried by mouth, so its displacement was called burrowing. Food restriction was unnecessary for this burrowing to occur. Only later, around 18 weeks, did more general motor impairments develop. As burrowing in scrapie-infected mice decreased when open field activity increased, and preceded later motor impairments, it was not due to motor dysfunction. Burrowing is a simple, sensitive, objective, ethological measure, sensitive to preclinical prion disease. Other potential applications are in transgenic and knockout mice, models of ageing and Alzheimer's disease, and pharmacology, particularly neuroleptics.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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