Climbing test for automated measurement of vertical activity in mice

Presenter: Federico Montechiaro, Ugo Basile

Description: The Ugo Basile Climbing Tests automates a test which has already been used in several applications and has been developed with the Commonwealth University of Virginia. The authors showed that, while mild analgesics block pain-depressed climbing, strong analgesics fail to alleviate depression of climbing (Santos et al. 2023, “Climbing behavior by mice as an endpoint for preclinical assessment of drug effects in the absence and presence of pain”, Frontiers). Climbing behavior was nonetheless measured manually by video analysis by an operator with a stopwatch.

The Ugo Basile device provides a system for up to 4 animals the time that automatically produce several information on climbing behavior:

  • Climbing time and percentage
  • Distance and activity
  • Climbing on the ceiling

The system is based on load cells and inductive materials, so that climbing is defined as the animal grasping and moving with all the 4 paws in the internal grid.

The reason why this method is promising and potentially helpful for a broad number of applications is that climbing, despite being an ethologically important component of locomotor behavior in rodents, is rarely studied as compared to horizontal movements. 

Use in anxiety studies, stress and depression, pain and others may result effective, considering that climbing is already measured parameter in several fields, but no industrial device was available.