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Eco-HAB as a fully automated and ecologically relevant assessment of social impairments in mouse models of autism

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Cite this article as: eLife 2016;5:e19532 doi: 10.7554/eLife.19532

Abstract

Eco-HAB is an open source, RFID-based system for automated measurement and analysis of social preference and in-cohort sociability in mice. The system closely follows murine ethology. It requires no contact between a human experimenter and tested animals, overcoming the confounding factors that lead to irreproducible assessment of murine social behavior between laboratories. In Eco-HAB, group-housed animals live in a spacious, four-compartment apparatus with shadowed areas and narrow tunnels, resembling natural burrows. Eco-HAB allows for assessment of the tendency of mice to voluntarily spend time together in ethologically relevant mouse group sizes. Custom-made software for automated tracking, data extraction, and analysis enables quick evaluation of social impairments. The developed protocols and standardized behavioral measures demonstrate high replicability. Unlike classic three-chambered sociability tests, Eco-HAB provides measurements of spontaneous, ecologically relevant social behaviors in group-housed animals. Results are obtained faster, with less manpower, and without confounding factors.

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Author details

  1. Alicja Puścian

    Department of Neurophysiology, Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-7029-1275
  2. Szymon Łęski

    Department of Neurophysiology, Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-1764-1907
  3. Grzegorz Kasprowicz

    Center for Theoretical Physics, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  4. Maciej Winiarski

    Department of Neurophysiology, Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  5. Joanna Borowska

    Department of Neurophysiology, Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  6. Tomasz Nikolaev

    Department of Neurophysiology, Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  7. Paweł M Boguszewski

    Department of Neurophysiology, Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-7210-6950
  8. Hans-Peter Lipp

    Institute of Anatomy, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  9. Ewelina Knapska

    Department of Neurophysiology, Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland
    For correspondence
    e.knapska@nencki.gov.pl
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0001-9319-2176

Funding

Swiss Contribution to the enlarged European Union (PSPB-210)

  • Alicja Puścian
  • Hans-Peter Lipp
  • Ewelina Knapska

National Science Center (2013/08/W/NZ4/00691)

  • Szymon Łęski
  • Grzegorz Kasprowicz
  • Ewelina Knapska

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Ethics

Animal experimentation: Animals were treated in accordance with the ethical standards of the European Union (directive no. 2010/63/UE) and Polish regulations. All experimental procedures were pre-approved by the Local Ethics Committee.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Peggy Mason, University of Chicago, United States

Publication history

  1. Received: July 12, 2016
  2. Accepted: October 11, 2016
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: October 12, 2016 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: November 2, 2016 (version 2)

Copyright

© 2016, Puścian et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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