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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Automated systems to assess weights and activity in group housed mice Noorshams, Omid


In order to investigate central nervous system disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer disease, genetically altered mice are used. These mouse models should be frequently monitored to assess disease progression. Most monitoring system for activity and weighing require remove of the animals from their homecage and place them in a novel environment. During these procedures animals may undergo the stress which can alter the behavioral and social phenotypes. We developed two systems to automatically weigh and track mice in their homecage. We have developed an automatic weighing system that facilitates these procedures within the mouse homecage. In this system up to 10 mice freely move between two cages (28x18x9 cm) which were connected by a weighing chamber mounted on a load cell. Each mouse is identified using an RFID tag placed under the skin of the neck. In one cage we placed a bottle of water and in the other cage food. A single-board computer (Raspberry Pi; RPi) controls the task, logging RFID tag, load cell weights, and time stamps from each RFID detection until the animal leaves the chamber. Collected data were statistically analyzed to estimate each mouse weight. We anticipate integration with tasks where automated imaging or behaviour is assessed in homecages. This automated system permits weighing mice several times per day for a long period of time without disruption by human interaction. ii In the automated tracking system, in addition to a grid of 18 RFID readers and 18 microcontrollers, one Raspberry Pi, as the master micro-computer, was also used. While the animals were moving inside the home cage, the printed board circuit on which the RFID readers were located monitored the animal’s location and activity. One RFID reader was on at the time for 120ms and off for almost 2.3s. Therefore, the mean frequency of reading can be around 1Hz. In this system, we acquired data for one mouse and two mice in the home cage. In order to test the accuracy of the system, we also monitored their activity with a camera. This system allowed us to monitor mice activity in their homecage for a long period of time.

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