Induced Disease Models

As a leading CRO for CNS drug development, QPS Austria provides induced animal models for Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Gaucher disease, Schizophrenia, Multiple sclerosis and neuroinflammation. Animal models that recapitulate some pathophysiological and behavioral characteristics of human disorders can be used to develop new disease-specific drugs, screen compounds for lesion efficacy or toxicity, or study gene function. The induced models available for drug development in Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Schizophrenia allow the quantitative evaluation of compound interactions with amyloid, tau, inflammation related markers, mitochondrial deficiency and other pathologies. Furthermore, QPS Austria offers virus injections of different types to induce a plethora of different pathologies by introducing cDNA or shRNA of your target protein.

Virus Injections

Tau Seeding
Biosafety level 2 experiments are becoming more and more indispensable in the field of neurodegenerative disease research. With this method, target proteins can be expressed or suppressed in distinct brain regions by intracerebral injection or more systemically by intraventricular or even intravenous injection of virus expressing cDNA or shRNA of the target protein.

The fully AAALAC accredited animal facility of QPS Austria maintains a Biosafety Level 2 (BSL2) laboratory for mouse and rat experiments, including but not limited to e.g. Lenti-, Adeno- and Adeno-associated (AAV) virus injections.

To analyze the effect of specific viruses for the induction or treatment of Alzheimer’s or other cognitive diseases, injections in the mouse entorhinal cortex (ERC) can be performed.

In the following seeding study, P301L Tau AAV was injected in the ERC of APPSL mice and spreading of Tau in the hippocampus could be observed.

Tau Propagation after Entorhinal Cortex Injection

Recombinant adeno-associated virus serotype 9 (AAV9) with human P301L Tau gene or empty vector was intracerebrally injected into the ERC of 3 months old male APPSL mice. (coordinates: AP: -4.2; ML: +/- 3.4; DV: – 4.5). A: Verification of injection site by ink injection into the entorhinal cortex. B: Tau expression in the ERC after P301L Tau virus injection. C: Spreading of Tau into the hippocampus after P301L Tau injection into the ERC of APPSL mice . All analyses were performed 1 month (C) or 3 months (B,D) after virus injection. Tau-13: human Tau (red); LOC: amyloid fibrils (white); NeuN: neurons (green); DAPI: cell nuclei (blue).

Alzheimer’s Disease

Scopolamine Treated Mice
Scopolamine is a tropane alkaloid drug with competitive antagonism at muscarinic acetylcholine receptors (mAChR). Systemic application of scopolamine disrupts the performance on several reference memory tasks, such as object discrimination, radial arm maze, water maze and fear conditioning. The scopolamine-induced cognitive impairment can be reversed by cholinesterase inhibitors. Therefore this model can be used to mimic cognitive dysfunction observed in dementia and AD and is a useful initial screening method to identify therapeutic candidates.

As with all other in vivo models we are also ready to provide samples (brain tissue, CSF etc.) from these animals for analyses in your laboratory.

We are happy to receive your inquiry.

Parkinson’s Disease

MPTP Mouse Model
Mice that receive acute, chronic or subchronic administration of the pyridine toxin 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) selectively lose significant numbers of dopaminergic neurons in two midbrain structures, the substantia nigra (SN) and the ventral tegmental area (VTA). Loss of dopamine cells in SN mimics the clinical condition in Parkinson’s disease, and leads to motor dysfunction. The dopaminergic loss in mouse VTA is of unknown relevance to Parkinson’s disease, but may contribute to the cognitive deficits of Parkinson’s disease, because of these neurons’ projections to the frontal cortex.

MPTP treated mice are a suitable model to study motor deficits and the loss of dopaminergic neurons as well as possible influences of drugs on these parameters.

As with all other in vivo models we are also ready to provide samples (brain tissue, CSF etc.) from these animals for analyses in your laboratory.

We are happy to receive your inquiry.

MPTP induced mouse model - Parkinson's diseaseFigure 1: Dopaminergic neuron loss, activated microglia and astrocytosis in the substantia nigra of MPTP treated mice. TH labeling of dopaminergic neurons (grey scale picture), activated microglia (CD11b, red) and astrocytosis (GFAP, green); DAPI: blue.






6-OHDA Lesion Model
Unilateral local application of 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA), a neurotoxic substance that preferentially affects catecholaminergic neurons, is a well-established model for analyzing effects of loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta and their major target area, the dorsal striatum.

The advantage of unilateral lesions is twofold, i.e. the contralateral hemisphere serves as an internal control that facilitates comparison of lesion effects between individuals and experimental groups during histological analysis, and lesion efficacy in individual animals can be estimated prior to sacrifice using certain behavioral tests (Grealish et al. 2010).

As with all other in vivo models we are also ready to provide samples (brain tissue, CSF etc.) from these animals for analyses in your laboratory.

We are happy to receive your inquiry.

6-ohda induced model
Figure 1. Coronal sections of 6-OHDA injected mice.
TH immunofluorescent labeling (upper picture). GFAP and TH immunofluorescent labeling to visualize astrocytosis (lower picture). Cpu: Caudate-Putamen; VTA: ventral tegmental area; SNpc: substantia nigra pars compacta. Arrows indicate injection canal.

Figure 2: Analysis of mice in the corridor test revealed that 6-OHDA injected animals preferred the right corridor side over the left while sham injected mice had no preference. Two way ANOVA followed by Bonferroni’s posthoc test. ***p<0.001.

Haloperidol Induced Catalepsy
Catalepsy is a neuronal condition that can be observed in Parkison’s disease, epilepsy, catatonia but also as adverse reaction to prescribed medications e.g. against schizophrenia. It is characterized by seizures with a loss of sensation and consciousness accompanied by rigidity of the body. By treating rats with the dopamine D2 receptor antagonist haloperidol, catalepsy can be induced for several hours, mimicking the typical symptoms like loss of consciousness and rigidity.

Sprague Dawley rats were subcutaneously injected with 1mg/kg Haloperidol. After 30 minutes, catalepsy was measured and additionally, animals showing a full catalepsy were treated orally with the positive compound or vehicle. Animals were retested for catalepsy at several time points after drug administration.

Catalepsy was evaluated by gently placing the front limbs of each rat over an 8 cm high horizontal bar; catalepsy was measured as time animals spent motionless. A cut-off time of 120 seconds was used.

Catalepsy after treatment with a positive compoundCatalepsy after treatment with a positive compound: Time animals spend rigid after s.c. treatment with 1mg/kg haloperidol, followed by oral treatment with a positive compound. Animals were repeatedly tested for catalepsy. Two way ANOVA followed by Bonferroni’s repeated measure posthoc test. ***p<0.001. T.I.: Test item / positive compound






Gaucher Disease

Conduritol-B-Epoxide (CBE)-Induced Gaucher Disease
Gaucher disease (GD) is the most common lysosomal storage disorder. The main pathological hallmark is the intracellular accumulation of glucosylceramide and glucosphingosine as a result of reduced glucocerebrosidase (GCase) enzyme activity due to mutations in the β-glucocerebrosidase gene (GBA). Conduritol-beta-epoxide (CBE) is a specific inhibitor of beta-glucocerebrosidase (GCase) activity and can thus be used to induce Gaucher disease in vivo.

C57Bl/6 mice were intraperitoneally injected with 100 mg/kg CBE on 9 consecutive days and brains analyzed for neuroinflammation.

Cortical astrocytosis and activated microglia of CBE-treated mice

Figure 1. Cortical astrocytosis and activated microglia of CBE-treated mice. GFAP (A) and CD11b (B) immunoreactive (IR) area in percent. n = 9 per group; unpaired t-test; Mean+SEM. **p<0.01; ***p<0.001. Representative images of cortical tissue of vehicle-treated or CBE-treated mice. Note the occurrence of extremely enlarged microglia (arrowhead) and increased GFAP in CBE-treated mice.


MK-801 (Hydrogen Maleate) Induced Schizophrenia in C57Bl/6 Mice
Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder that affects about 1% of the population. Cognitive dysfunction in schizophrenia is associated with functional disease symptoms (Green et al., 2000). Non competitive NMDA receptor antagonists, such as Ketamine and MK-801, are shown to produce complex symptoms that mimic positive and negative symptoms, as well as the cognitive deficits of schizophrenia (Moghaddam and Jackson, 2003; Newcomer and Krystal, 2001; Wass et al., 2006; Didriksen et al., 2007).

MK-801 impairs learning and memory functions that depend on the hippocampus and the amygdala (Jafari-Sabet, 2006). MK801 also produces various effects on rodent behavior including deficits in sensory processing (Al-Amin and Schwarzkopf, 1996), hypermotility (Carlsson, 1993) stereotypy and ataxia (Trickleband et al., 1989). Antipsychotic drugs, such as clozapine, used in the treatment of schizophrenia have been shown to improve MK-801 induced cognitive impairment in mice (Mutlu, Ulak, 2011). Additionally, a reversal of behavioral abnormalities that are relevant to schizophrenia could be observed in mGluR5 knockout mice (Gray, 2009).

Therefore C57Bl/6 mice were injected with 0.2mg/kg MK-801 and analyzed for their behavior in the open field and the contextual fear conditioning test. Our results show that MK-801 increased the distance traversed and hyperactivity of mice and that this effect was in part reversible by the dopamine and serotonine receptor antagonist Clozapine.

MK-801 fig1 Figure 1: Analysis of all treatment groups for general activity in the open field test shows that MK-801 treated mice traverse a longer distance in meter and are more hyperactive compared to vehicle treated mice.  Open Field test of Clozapine treated MK-801 induced schizophrenia mice. Animals were tested for distance traversed in meter and hyperactivity in percent. Time point 0 indicates time of simultaneous injection of MK-801 and Clozapine. N = 10 /group. Data are presented as mean ± SEM. Data were analyzed by two way ANOVA followed by Bonferroni posttest. ***p<0.001.

Analysis of mice in the contextual fear conditioning test revealed, that the mice had an impaired emotional memory after MK-801 treatment and that Clozapine was able to reduce this effect.

MK-801 fig2Figure 2: Analysis of all treatment groups in the contextual fear conditioning test shows that untreated animals freeze most during the first two minutes of testing. Treatment with MK801 decreased freezing significantly during the first two minutes of testing. Freezing time is shown in percent of the total time. Animals were injected 30 minutes before the start of the test. MK801 was injected simultaneously. N = 10 /group. Data are presented as mean ± SEM. Data were analyzed by two way ANOVA followed by Bonferroni posttest. **p<0.01; ***p<0.001.

Amphetamine (AMPH) or Phencyclidine (PCP) Treated Rat Model
The most widely validated animal models of the positive, negative and cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia involve administration of the dopamine-releasing drug, d-amphetamine in combination with the benzodiazepine Chlordiazepoxide (AMPH) or an open channel NMDA receptor blocker, phencyclidine (PCP).  Pretreatment with Clozapine (CZP) can reverse the observed effects.

Schizophrenia rat model figure - PCP social interaction

  • PCP decreases social interaction of Sprague Dawley rats in the Three Chamber Social test.
  • Effect can not be prevented or decreased by CZP.

Schizophrenia rat model figure - PCP startle response & prepulse inhibition

  • PCP increases the startle response of Sprague Dawley rats in the prepulse inhibition test, effect can be prevented by CZP
  • PCP decreases prepulse inhibition of Sprague Dawley rats in the prepulse inhibition test, effect can be reversed by CZP, effect of PCP depends on prepulse intensity

Schizophrenia rat model figure - AMPH open field horizontal

  • AMPH increases activity in the Open Field test 10 minutes after treatment
  • AMPH effect can be decreased by CZP



Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) Induced Neuroinflammation
Neuroinflammation is a common feature of different neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Frontotemporal dementia, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and many more. Recent research suggests that targeting neuroinflammation might present a valid method to treat neurodegenerative diseases. To model neuroinflammation independent from other disease relevant pathologies, mice can be peripherally injected with lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Several different LPS treatment regimes are published. Here we present exemplarily the effect of four 0.5mg/kg LPS injection on consecutive days.

Other treatment protocols can be performed according to your needs.

Figure - LPS induced neuroinflammationFigure 1: Immunofluorescent labeling of the medial hippocampus of LPS treated mice. Animals were intraperitoneally injected with 0.5mg/kg LPS (A) or vehicle (B) on 4 consecutive days. Tissue was labeled with CD68 antibody (red) for macrophages, IBA1 antibody (green) for microglia and DAPI (blue) for nuclear staining.

Multiple Sclerosis

Cuprizone Induced Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a human specific disease and represents one of the most common neurological disorders among young adults. Although there is a broad range of neurological symptoms and different disease progressions, key hallmarks are demyelination, neuroinflammation, and neurodegeneration resulting in persistent invalidity. Depending on the location of the lesion, symptoms range from disturbances in sensory and visual perception, alterations of motor strength, gait and motor coordination, rigidity to cognitive decline. In addition, depression-like behavior or chronic fatigue, are common aspects of the disease. Cuprizone is a copper chelator, that causes rapid demyelination and gliosis, and rapid proliferation of glia subtypes. The cuprizone mouse model captures several aspects of MS pathology like demyelination / remyelination, cognitive decline, altered activity and motor deficits. The cuprizone model is the most frequently used model among the toxin-induced MS models and is used to study mechanisms of oligodendrocyte turnover, gliosis as well as motor capabilities. This animal model is thus be suitable to assess certain aspects of the MS pathology and to test pharmaceutical compounds. C57Bl/6 mice are fed with 0.3 % cuprizone food pellets for 1 month. Behavioral changes are analyzed within the last week of cuprizone treatment.

Figure_Cuprizone induced Multiple SclerosisFigure 1: Beam walk test, MAO activity and astrocytosis of C57BL/6 mice after 4 weeks of cuprizone treatment. A: latency to traverse a 10 mm wide square beam in seconds. B: MAO activity in brain lysates. C: Quantification of astrocytes in the hippocampus by GFAP labeling. Mean + SEM; n = 10 per group; unpaired t-test/Mann Whitney test; ***p<0.001.

As with all other in vivo models we are also ready to provide samples (brain tissue, CSF etc.) from these animals for analyses in your laboratory. We are happy to receive your inquiry.