Behavioral responses of 129/Sv, C57BL/6J and DBA/2J mice to a non-predator aversive olfactory stimulus
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We examined the behavior of three inbred mouse strains (129/SvPasIco, C57BL/6J, and DBA/2J) exposed to an object soaked with the chemical component of the aversive scent (toluquinone odor) emitted by a myriapod species (Ommatoiulus sabulosus) in the presence of a predator. Subjects were exposed to the odor for three consecutive days. Behavioral responses to the toluquinone odor were characterized both by an approach phase of risk assessment and by a repeated series of approach-avoid episodes. Results indicate that toluquinone exposure reduced completely, and in a strain independent fashion, selected behaviors such as crouching, catching and eating object. Other responses were strain-dependent: the DBA (DBA/2J) strain displayed defensive burying at high levels, C57 (C57BL/6J) mice performed high levels of withdrawal while the 129/Sv (129/SvPasIco) strain showed also high levels of stretch attend posture. Compared to other tasks, this test is ethological, simple, cheap and is not affected by strain differences in appetitive-sensory responses, as shown by some strain-independent responses. These features make this task as a good complement to any exploration-anxiety test battery.
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Francesca Cirulli, Section of Behavioral Neuroscience, Dept. of Cell Biology and Neurosciences Istituto Superiore di Sanit, Viale Regina Elena 299, 00161, Roma, Italy