BOSTON, Sept. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- In a published report in the Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation, scientists from Harvard Medical School and Mouse Specifics, Inc. (MSI) in Boston have characterized gait dynamics in mice with Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Gait analysis is the process of quantification and interpretation of locomotion. In humans, gait analysis is widely used to quantify patients' movement disorders to provide diagnosis and treatment options. The distinct gait patterns of mice with Parkinson's, Huntington's, and ALS reflect impairment of specific neural pathways involved in the different aspects of the diseases, and provide the basis for testing new therapies.
Gait disturbances are characteristic of patients with Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, and ALS. Sudden falls due to unsteady gait are major hazards for the affected patients. Mouse models of these human diseases are essential to their understanding and treatment, yet gait disturbances in diseased mice are seldom described. The scientists from Harvard and MSI used a high speed digital imaging system and a recently patented treadmill with a transparent belt (The DigiGait(TM) Imaging System) to quantify gait indices in mice treated with toxins to mimic symptoms of either Parkinson's or Huntington's disease, and in mice genetically modified to replicate symptoms of ALS. As in patients, mice with Parkinson's and Huntington's disease exhibited less steady gait than healthy mice, with greater stride-to-stride variability of gait cycle timing. As in patients, upper limb dynamics were more variable in mice with Huntington's disease than in mice with Parkinson's disease. As in patients, gait variability was less disturbed in mice with ALS than in mice with Parkinson's. The altered gait dynamics in the different mouse models indicate that specific neural pathways are involved in the different observed gait pathologies.
"The ability to quantify and distinguish measures of 'walking' in mice with, say, Parkinson's disease and mice with Huntington's disease provides a new opportunity to zero in on the mechanisms underlying their distinct pathologies and characteristics," said Visiting Professor Ivo Amende, Medical University Hannover, Germany, lead author of the study. "Our hope is that gait analysis in mouse models of human movement disorders and neurodegenerative diseases will accelerate the development of drugs to prevent or reverse gait disturbances." The publication can be accessed via the Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation website at http://www.jneuroengrehab.com/content/2/1/20 .
About Mouse Specifics, Inc.
Mouse Specifics, Inc. is a leader in the development of instruments for analyzing the effects of genes, diseases, and drugs in animal models of human disorders. The company has commercialized several imaging technologies to non-invasively monitor cardiac function and motor activity in conscious mice without anesthesia, surgery, or implants. The company's intellectual property portfolio includes diagnosis and treatment of muscular dystrophy and
prevention of ALS. For more information about Mouse Specifics, Inc., visit its website at http://www.MouseSpecifics.com.
Mouse Specifics, Inc. (MSI)