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Behav Brain Res. 2012 May 1;230(2):309-16. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2011.12.007. Epub 2011 Dec 9.

Sensorimotor assessment of the unilateral 6-hydroxydopamine mouse model of Parkinson's disease.

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Department of Physiology, Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL 60610, USA.


Parkinson's disease (PD), the second most common neurodegenerative disorder, is characterized by marked impairments in motor function caused by the progressive loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNc). Animal models of PD have traditionally been based on toxins, such as 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) and 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP), that selectively lesion dopaminergic neurons. Motor impairments from 6-OHDA lesions of SNc neurons are well characterized in rats, but much less work has been done in mice. In this study, we compare the effectiveness of a series of drug-free behavioral tests in assessing sensorimotor impairments in the unilateral 6-OHDA mouse model, including six tests used for the first time in this PD mouse model (the automated treadmill "DigiGait" test, the challenging beam test, the adhesive removal test, the pole test, the adjusting steps test, and the test of spontaneous activity) and two tests used previously in 6-OHDA-lesioned mice (the limb-use asymmetry "cylinder" test and the manual gait test). We demonstrate that the limb-use asymmetry, challenging beam, pole, adjusting steps, and spontaneous activity tests are all highly robust assays for detecting sensorimotor impairments in the 6-OHDA mouse model. We also discuss the use of the behavioral tests for specific experimental objectives, such as simple screening for well-lesioned mice in studies of PD cellular pathophysiology or comprehensive behavioral analysis in preclinical therapeutic testing using a battery of sensorimotor tests.

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