Reliable behavioural tests in animal models of neurodegenerative diseases allow us to study the natural history of disease and evaluate the efficacy of novel therapies. Mucopolysaccharidosis IIIA (MPS IIIA or Sanfilippo A), is a severe, neurodegenerative lysosomal storage disorder caused by a deficiency in the heparan sulphate catabolising enzyme, sulfamidase. Undegraded heparan sulphate accumulates, resulting in lysosomal enlargement and cellular dysfunction. Patients suffer a progressive loss of motor and cognitive function with severe behavioural manifestations and premature death. There is currently no treatment. A spontaneously occurring mouse model of the disease has been described, that has approximately 3% of normal enzyme activity levels. Behavioural phenotyping of the MPS IIIA mouse has been previously reported, but the results are conflicting and variable, even after full backcrossing to the C57BL/6 background. Therefore we have independently backcrossed the MPS IIIA model onto the C57BL/6J background and evaluated the behaviour of male and female MPS IIIA mice at 4, 6 and 8 months of age using the open field test, elevated plus maze, inverted screen and horizontal bar crossing at the same circadian time point. Using a 60 minute open field, we have demonstrated that female MPS IIIA mice are hyperactive, have a longer path length, display rapid exploratory behaviour and spend less time immobile than WT mice. Female MPS IIIA mice also display a reduced sense of danger and spend more time in the centre of the open field. There were no significant differences found between male WT and MPS IIIA mice and no differences in neuromuscular strength were seen with either sex. The altered natural history of behaviour that we observe in the MPS IIIA mouse will allow more accurate evaluation of novel therapeutics for MPS IIIA and potentially other neurodegenerative disorders.
Langford-Smith, A., Langford-Smith, K. J., Jones, S. A., Wynn, R. F., Wraith, J. E., Wilkinson, F. L., & Bigger, B. W. (2011). Female mucopolysaccharidosis IIIA mice exhibit hyperactivity and a reduced sense of danger in the open field test. PLoS ONE, 6(10). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0025717