An analysis of licking microstructure in three strains of mice.
ABSTRACT Mouse models of feeding provide a useful tool for elucidating the molecular pathways of energy regulation. The majority of studies in mice have been limited to intake analyses conducted over extended periods of time, which fail to distinguish between a variety of factors that influence nutrient intake. Using licking microstructure analyses we examined both the size and number of licking bursts for water, polycose, sucrose and lecithin in three strains of mice (C57BL/6J, 129Sv/ImJ and C57129F1 hybrids), using pause criteria (250-500, >500 and >1000 ms) that have previously been described in the rat. Burst size and number varied both as a function of tastant concentration and mouse strain; however, these differences were most evident with the >1000 ms pause criterion. Consistent with previous reports, during water consumption C57 mice showed longer mean interlick intervals, a larger number of bursts but reduced burst size relative to the two other strains. F1 mice showed larger burst sizes for polycose, while C57 mice displayed a greater number of bursts for both polycose and sucrose. Both 129 and F1 mice were insensitive to sucrose concentration, whereas C57 mice showed attenuated lecithin intake influenced by a reduction in the size of bursts for this tastant. These results suggest that these strains of mice display differences in the pattern of licking that are most evident with the use of larger pause criteria. These differences in licking behavior might reflect influences of genetic background on pre- and post-ingestive factors controlling intake, the reinforcing properties of each tastant, or native differences in licking style.