Beware of your mouse strain; differential effects of lithium on behavioral and neurochemical phenotypes in Harlan ICR mice bred in Israel or the USA. Academic Article uri icon


  • Animal models are crucial components in the search for better understanding of the biological basis of psychiatric disorders and for the development of novel drugs. Research, in general, and research with animal models, in particular, relies on the consistency of effects of investigated drugs or manipulations across experiments. In that context, it had been noted that behavioral responses to lithium in ICR (CD-1) mice from Harlan Israel have changed across the last years. To examine this change, the present study compared the effect of lithium treatment in ICR mice from Harlan Israel with the ICR mice from Harlan USA. The mice were treated with chronic oral lithium. Their lithium serum levels were measured and their behavior in the forced swim test (FST) was evaluated. The mice were also treated with [ 3 H]-inositol ICV and lithium injection and their frontal cortex [ 3 H]-phosphoinositols accumulation was measured. Results show that lithium serum levels in Israeli mice were significantly lower compared with the USA mice, that lithium had no behavioral effect in the Israeli mice but significantly reduced FST immobility time of the USA mice, and that phosphoinositols accumulation was much more strongly affected by lithium in the USA mice compared with the Israeli mice. These results suggest that the Israeli Harlan colony of ICR mice changed significantly from the original ICR colony in Harlan USA and that the differences might be related to absorption or secretion of lithium.

publication date

  • January 1, 2014