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Thigmotaxis Helps Differentiate Normal and Pathological Ageing Processes in a Mouse model of Alzheimer’s Disease †

Department of Psychiatry and Forensic Medicine, School of Medicine, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193 Barcelona, Spain
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Presented at the 2nd International Electronic Conference on Brain Sciences, 15–30 July 2021; Available online:
Med. Sci. Forum 2022, 8(1), 2;
Published: 14 July 2021
(This article belongs to the Proceedings of The 2nd International Electronic Conference on Brain Sciences)


A decline in learning and remembering a spatial route often accompanies the normal ageing process. Impairments in spatial orientation manifest from the early stages of disabling cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). In the preclinical field, detecting behavioural signs that help differentiate both entities improve understanding of the AD instauration process and promotes advances in novel treatments to ameliorate its impact. Here, the performance of 3xTg-AD mice of both sexes and their non-transgenic (NTg) (C57BL/6J) counterpart was evaluated at two time points (12 and 16-months of age) in the Morris water maze test, using a modified 5-day protocol for the assessment of cognitive and non-cognitive symptoms of dementia, followed by a multiple swim pattern identification within a single trial in the test. In the CUE stage, when a visible flag was available, the classical parameter of mean distance travelled until finding the platform showed that all animals learned the basic principles of the test more rapidly with a second experience (at 16 months of age). After switching the platform location in the Place task (PT) stage, mild variations in reference memory were detected along days at 12 months but not at 16 months of age. Later, in the removal (RMV) stage, where no platform was available, the 16-month-old 3xTg-AD male mice showed better results in short-term memory performance. However, when the swim pattern was visually analysed (qualitative analysis), persistence in Thigmotaxis episodes, a non-hippocampus-associated search strategy, was found in the pathological AD-like model but not in the NTg group, pointing out this pattern as a valuable differentiating trait. Finally, the multiple strategies approach seems valuable for differentiating both mice strains, despite a similar performance when quantitative parameters were analysed.

Supplementary Materials

The following are available online at References [1,2,3,4,5,6] are cited in the supplementary materials.

Author Contributions

L.G.-L., conceptualization and supervision; D.A.-M., writing and formal analysis. Both authors revised and approved the final manuscript. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


The colonies are currently sustained by Fet-Open ArrestAD European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No. 737390 to L.G.-L.; D.A.-M. is recipient of a CONICYT-ANID/73200493 grant from the Chilean government.

Institutional Review Board Statement

The study was conducted according to the guidelines of the Declaration of Helsinki, and approved by the Ethics Committee of Departament de Medi Ambient i Habitatge, Generalitat de Catalunya (CEEAH 3588/DMAH 9452) the 8 March 2019.

Informed Consent Statement

Not applicable.

Data Availability Statement

Data are not publicly available due to ongoing analyses for future publications.


We thank Frank M. LaFerla Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders, Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, University of California, Irvine, USA, for kindly providing the progenitors of the Spanish colonies of 3xTg-AD and NTg mice.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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MDPI and ACS Style

Alveal-Mellado, D.; Giménez-Llort, L. Thigmotaxis Helps Differentiate Normal and Pathological Ageing Processes in a Mouse model of Alzheimer’s Disease. Med. Sci. Forum 2022, 8, 2.

AMA Style

Alveal-Mellado D, Giménez-Llort L. Thigmotaxis Helps Differentiate Normal and Pathological Ageing Processes in a Mouse model of Alzheimer’s Disease. Medical Sciences Forum. 2022; 8(1):2.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Alveal-Mellado, Daniel, and Lydia Giménez-Llort. 2022. "Thigmotaxis Helps Differentiate Normal and Pathological Ageing Processes in a Mouse model of Alzheimer’s Disease" Medical Sciences Forum 8, no. 1: 2.

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