Ueno, H., Takahashi, Y., Murakami, S. et al. 2022. The prevention of home-cage grid climbing affects muscle strength in mice. Scientific Reports 12(1), 15263.

Experimenters and treatment methods are the major contributors to data variability in behavioral neuroscience. However, home cage characteristics are likely associated with data variability. Mice housed in breeding cages spontaneously exhibit behavioral patterns such as biting into the wire grid and climbing on the grid lid. We aimed to clarify the effect of covering the stainless steel wire grid lid in commonly used home cage with Plexiglas to prevent climbing on muscle strength in mice. Furthermore, we investigated the effects of climbing prevention on activity and anxiety-like behavior, and the impact of climbing prevention during the postnatal development period and adulthood on muscle strength. Muscle strength, anxiety-like behavior, and locomotor activity were assessed by a battery of tests (wire hang, suspension, grip strength, rotarod, elevated-plus maze, and open field tests). Mice prevented from climbing the wire grid during postnatal development displayed lower muscle strength than those able to climb. Moreover, mice prevented from climbing for 3 weeks following maturity had weakened muscles. The muscle strength was decreased with 3 weeks of climbing prevention in even 1-year-old mice. In summary, the stainless steel wire grid in the home cage contributed to the development and maintenance of muscle strength in mice.

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