Characterization of long-term gait deficits in mouse dMCAO, using the CatWalk system

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Evaluation of functional outcome is widely used across species to assess the recovery process following various pathological conditions, including spinal cord injury, musculo-skeletal injury, mithochondrial disease, neuropathic cancer, Huntington's disease, chronic pain, cortical lesion, and olivocerebellar degeneration among others. The Stroke Therapy Academic Industry Roundtable (STAIR) recommends multiple endpoints for behavioral studies in pre-clinical stroke research, to demonstrate their clinical relevance. One of the more challenging tasks in experimental stroke research is measuring long-term functional outcome in mice. It is, however, becoming more important, since transgenic mice are increasingly used for modeling human neurological disorders. Using CatWalk, we characterized long-lasting gait/locomotion deficits following mouse distal middle cerebral artery occlusion (dMCAO). The post-dMCAO assessment was performed at 7, 14, 21, and 28 days after experimental ischemia. When compared to sham-operated mice, dMCAO animals displayed a statistically significant decrease in Spatial parameters (such as Paw Area), while the Temporal parameters (Stand, Initial and Terminal Dual Stances) were significantly increased for three weeks after surgery. Kinetic parameters were significantly decreased in dMCAO animals at 7 days after dMCAO. The Interlimb coordination group of parameters displayed the strongest deficits at 21 days. While CatWalk variables were altered in all paws, the degree of change was greatest for the parameters measured from the Right Front Paw (contralateral to the lesion). All parameters measured in dMCAO and Sham-operated groups reached similar levels at four weeks after the experimental insult, which reflects a spontaneous post-ischemic recovery. Based on our investigation, we conclude that CatWalk represents a relevant and sensitive analysis, which allows long-term characterization of animal functional recovery in the dMCAO model of experimental ischemia.

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