Consistent behavioral phenotype differences between inbred mouse strains in the IntelliCage


PD Dr S. Krackow, NewBehavior AG, Technoparkstrasse 1, CH-8005 Zürich, Switzerland. E-mail:


The between-laboratory effects on behavioral phenotypes and spatial learning performance of three strains of laboratory mice known for divergent behavioral phenotypes were evaluated in a fully balanced and synchronized study using a completely automated behavioral phenotyping device (IntelliCage). Activity pattern and spatial conditioning performance differed consistently between strains, i.e. exhibited no interaction with the between-laboratory factor, whereas the gross laboratory effect showed up significantly in the majority of measures. It is argued that overall differences between laboratories may not realistically be preventable, as subtle differences in animal housing and treatment will not be controllable, in practice. However, consistency of strain (or treatment) effects appears to be far more important in behavioral and brain sciences than the absolute overall level of such measures. In this respect, basic behavioral and learning measures proved to be highly consistent in the IntelliCage, therefore providing a valid basis for meaningful research hypothesis testing. Also, potential heterogeneity of behavioral status because of environmental and social enrichment has no detectable negative effect on the consistency of strain effects. We suggest that the absence of human interference during behavioral testing is the most prominent advantage of the IntelliCage and suspect that this is likely responsible for the between-laboratory consistency of findings, although we are aware that this ultimately needs direct testing.