Head and cervical spine posture in behaving rats: implications for modeling human conditions involving the head and cervical spine.Anat Rec (Hoboken). 2015 Feb; 298(2):455-62.AR
The aim of this study was to define the temporal and spatial (postural) characteristics of the head and cervical vertebral column (spine) of behaving rats in order to better understand their suitability as a model to study human conditions involving the head and neck. Time spent in each of four behavioral postures was determined from video tape recordings of rats (n = 10) in the absence and presence of an intruder rat. Plain film radiographic examination of a subset of these rats (n = 5) in each of these postures allowed measurement of head and cervical vertebral column positions adopted by the rats. When single they were quadruped or crouched most (∼80%) of the time and bipedal either supported or free standing for only ∼10% of the time. The introduction of an intruder significantly (P < 0.0001) reduced the proportion of time rats spent quadruped (median, from 71% to 47%) and bipedal free standing (median, from 2.9% to 0.4%). The cervical spine was orientated (median, 25-75 percentile) near vertical (18.8°, 4.2°-30.9°) when quadruped, crouched (15.4°, 7.6°-69.3°) and bipedal supported (10.5°, 4.8°-22.6°) but tended to be less vertical oriented when bipedal free standing (25.9°, 7.7°-39.3°). The range of head positions relative to the cervical spine was largest when crouched (73.4°) and smallest when erect free standing (17.7°). This study indicates that, like humans, rats have near vertical orientated cervical vertebral columns but, in contrast to humans, they displace their head in space by movements at both the cervico-thoracic junction and the cranio-cervical regions.