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Brain Res Brain Res Protoc. 2005 Feb;14(2):87-99.

The Suok ("ropewalking") murine test of anxiety.

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Department of Anatomy, Medical School, University of Tampere, Tampere, 33014 Finland.


In the present study, we suggest that long elevated horizontal rod (Suok test, ST) and its light-dark modification (LDST) may be used for behavioral characterization in mice, including simultaneous assessment of their anxiety, activity, and neurological phenotypes. To establish the ST and the LDST as murine models of anxiety, we used several different mouse strains which differ markedly in their anxiety and activity (C57BL/6, 129S1/SvImJ, NMRI, and BALB/c). Here we show that our tests are able to ethologically discriminate between high and low anxiety mouse strains, as assessed by horizontal and directed exploration, stops, and defecation boli. The spatial distribution of the LDST behaviors is also sensitive to these strain-specific anxiety phenotypes, showing clear avoidance of the brightly lit part of the test in stressed (rat exposed) vs. control NMRI mice. In addition, we validated the ST in 129S1/SvImJ and BALB/c mice by assessing the behavioral consequences of acute stress such as rat exposure. Finally, we showed that our test is able to detect high anxiety and poorer motor coordination in 129S1/SvImJ (vs. C57BL/6) mice. The results of our study show that the ST emerges as an experimental tool to analyze anxiety, motor-vestibular anomalies, as well as anxiety-induced motor impairments in mice. Overall, we suggest that the ST can be a useful protocol in neurobehavioral stress research including modeling stress-evoked states, pharmacological screening of potential anti-stress drugs, or behavioral phenotyping of genetically modified animals.

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