The female brindled mouse as a model of menkes’ disease: The relationship of fur pattern to behavioral and neurochemical abnormalities

Parthena M. Martin, Mika Irino, Kinuko Suzuki, Mark H. Lewis, Richard B. Mailman

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The brindled mottled mutant mouse, a model of Menkes’ disease, has alterations in copper homeostasis which cause, among other sequelae, neuronal degeneration in selected areas of brain. This work examined the neurochemical changes at postnatal days (PND) 15, 30 and 60 in females heterozygous for the sex-linked brindled mutation. These data were compared to behavioral alterations and to fur coat color at these same time points. The brindled heterozygotic females had lower concentrations of norepinephrine (NE) in the cingulate cortex, and higher levels of dopamine or dopamine metabolites in the cingulate cortex, thalamus and hypothalamus across all ages, although the difference was greatest at PND 15. The brindled females were much less active than their normal littermates at PND 15, but the differences were no longer evident at PND 30 and 60. Mottling of the fur is believed to result from low tyrosinase activity caused by abnormalities in copper metabolism. The fur pattern and behavior of the brindled mice were highly correlated with NE levels in the cingulate cortex and thalamus. These data show that female brindled mice have neurochemical abnormalities similar to (if less severe than) the male hemizygotes, that these abnormalities are regionally specific, are most apparent prior to 30 days of age, and are linked to behavioral deficits. These data also show that the extent of such deficits can be predicted by a quantitative analysis of the fur pattern of these females.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-129
Number of pages9
JournalDevelopmental Neuroscience
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1991


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience

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