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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 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

    1. 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 0000-0002-7029-1275
  2. Szymon Łęski

    1. 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 0000-0003-1764-1907
  3. Grzegorz Kasprowicz

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

    1. 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

    1. 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

    1. 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

    1. 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 0000-0002-7210-6950
  8. Hans-Peter Lipp

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

    1. Department of Neurophysiology, Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland
    For correspondence
    1. e.knapska@nencki.gov.pl
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon 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, Reviewing Editor, 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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