Rodent’s Stride Length Depends on Body Size: Implications for CatWalk Assay

Timotius I, Moceri S, Plank AC, Habermeyer J, Canneva F, Casadei N, Riess O, Winkler J, Klucken J, Eskofier B, von Hörsten S (2018)

Publication Language: English

Publication Type: Conference contribution, Conference Contribution

Publication year: 2018

City/Town: UK

Conference Proceedings Title: Measuring Behavior 2018

Event location: Manchester GB

ISBN: 978-1-910029-39-8


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The analysis of gait is an essential part of rodent phenotyping. Regarding the complex nature of walking, preclinical gait analysis is normally based on several gait parameters (which have been progressively developed [1,2] in recent years) including the animal’s stride length, body speed, support, etc. The stride length is altered in several diseases [3–5] and this parameter can be easily translated from rodent models to human patients. However, we hypothesized that the stride length is affected by the body size [6,7], which becomes a challenge in analyzing gait.

Using the gait parameters assessed by CatWalk system [8–10], we examined the correlation between body-length/body-weight with stride length using CatWalk-video-derived body silhouette length. To examine the effect of growth and aging in rodents, we studied wild-type Sprague-Dawley male rats and C57BL/6N mice. Moreover, we examined the body size difference between genotypes in BACSCNA transgenic rats [11,12] and BACHD transgenic mice [13]. The CatWalk data were collected as the rodents walked freely on top of a glass-floored corridor. The rat gait was monitored at 4 different age points (10, 26, 55 and 62 weeks old), whereas the mice were monitored at 3 different age points (20, 32, and 47 weeks old). The rodent numbers included in the experiments were: (a) wild-type male rats (n=16-27/time point), (b) BACSCNA rats (n=19-32/time point), (c) wild-type mice (n=12-13/time point), and (d) BACHD mice (n=9-11/time point). The rodents were maintained under specific-pathogen-free condition. All research and animal care procedures were performed in compliance with international animal welfare standards and approved by the district governments of Lower Franconia, Würzburg, Bavaria, Germany (RegUFr#55.2-2532-2-218).

The correlations between front stride length (averaged from the left and right side) and the body-silhouette-length/body-weight are shown in Figure 1. Significant correlations are shown with both body silhouette lengths and body weight. The correlation between hind stride length and body size showed the similar relationship as the front stride length (data not shown). Besides body size differences due to growth, pathological body size differences were also observed as shown in Figure 2.

Thus, we demonstrated that stride length is highly correlated with body silhouette length (based on the CatWalk video) and body weight. In the near future, we need to subject gait parameters to a scaling process using body weight or silhouette length, raising the possibility of normalization for differences in size as a potential confounding of gait measures.

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Timotius, I., Moceri, S., Plank, A.-C., Habermeyer, J., Canneva, F., Casadei, N.,... von Hörsten, S. (2018). Rodent’s Stride Length Depends on Body Size: Implications for CatWalk Assay. In Robyn Grant, Tom Allen, Andrew Spink, Matthew Sullivan (Eds.), Measuring Behavior 2018. Manchester, GB: UK.


Timotius, Ivanna, et al. "Rodent’s Stride Length Depends on Body Size: Implications for CatWalk Assay." Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Methods and Techniques in Behavioral Research (Measuring Behavior 2018), Manchester Ed. Robyn Grant, Tom Allen, Andrew Spink, Matthew Sullivan, UK, 2018.

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