Reinventing the wheel: comparison of two wheel cage styles for assessing mouse voluntary running activity

T. Seward, B. D. Harfmann, K. A. Esser, E. A. Schroder
2018 Journal of applied physiology  
Seward T, Harfmann BD, Esser KA, Schroder EA. Reinventing the wheel: comparison of two wheel cage styles for assessing mouse voluntary running activity. Voluntary wheel cage assessment of mouse activity is commonly employed in exercise and behavioral research. Currently, no standardization for wheel cages exists resulting in an inability to compare results among data from different laboratories. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the distance run or average speed data differ
more » ... nding on the use of two commonly used commercially available wheel cage systems. Two different wheel cages with structurally similar but functionally different wheels (electromechanical switch vs. magnetic switch) were compared side-by-side to measure wheel running data differences. Other variables, including enrichment and cage location, were also tested to assess potential impacts on the running wheel data. We found that cages with the electromechanical switch had greater inherent wheel resistance and consistently led to greater running distance per day and higher average running speed. Mice rapidly, within 1-2 days, adapted their running behavior to the type of experimental switch used, suggesting these running differences are more behavioral than due to intrinsic musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, or metabolic limits. The presence of enrichment or location of the cage had no detectable impact on voluntary wheel running. These results demonstrate that mice run differing amounts depending on the type of cage and switch mechanism used and thus investigators need to report wheel cage type/wheel resistance and use caution when interpreting distance/speed run across studies. NEW & NOTEWORTHY The results of this study highlight that mice will run different distances per day and average speed based on the inherent resistance present in the switch mechanism used to record data. Rapid changes in running behavior for the same mouse in the different cages demonstrate that a strong behavioral factor contributes to classic exercise outcomes in mice. Caution needs to be taken when interpreting mouse voluntary wheel running activity to include potential behavioral input and physiological parameters. enrichment; mice; voluntary wheel cages
doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00880.2017 pmid:29357507 fatcat:azbbsthnazepbk23d7qvv3ghhq