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Brain Res Brain Res Protoc. 1997 Aug;1(3):253-7.

Hyperactivity and hypoactivity in a rat model of Huntington's disease: the systemic 3-nitropropionic acid model.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, University of South Florida College of Medicine, Tampa 33612, USA.


The present study proposes the use of systemic 3-nitropropionic acid (3-NP) treatment in rats as a model of Huntington's disease (HD). The systemic 3-NP model involves chronic injection of low dose intraperitoneal (i.p.) injections of 3-NP to rats once every 4 days over a period of time. Evidence from our experimental studies suggests that manipulating the number of injections can result in either increased nocturnal spontaneous locomotor activity (hyperactivity) or nocturnal akinesia (hypoactivity) [1]. For example, two injections of 3-NP (using the treatment of one injection every 4 days) result in hyperactivity, while four injections or more of 3-NP lead to hypoactivity [1]. The locomotor activity is recorded by Digiscan locomotor activity monitors [11]. The observation of these two types of locomotor activity is unique since no excitotoxin model has replicated a two-stage progression of a HD-like behavioral alteration. Most studies using excitotoxins like quinolinic acid (QA) and kainic acid (KA) have only reproduced the hyperactivity stage [4,5,7]. With the systemic 3-NP model, investigations into at least two stages of the disease are made possible. This allows for better assessment of intervention strategies such as neural transplants across different stages of the disease. The systemic 3-NP rat model is believed to be an improved animal model of HD.

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