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Free-Hand Intracerebroventricular Injections in Mice

Published: January 12th, 2024



1Department of Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University

Here, a simple and rapid approach for performing intracerebroventricular injections in mice using a free-hand approach (that is, without a stereotaxic device) is described.

The investigation of neuroendocrine systems often requires the delivery of drugs, viruses, or other experimental agents directly into the brains of mice. An intracerebroventricular (ICV) injection allows the widespread delivery of the experimental agent throughout the brain (particularly in the structures near the ventricles). Here, methods for making free-hand ICV injections in adult mice are described. By using visual and tactile landmarks on the heads of mice, injections into the lateral ventricles can be made rapidly and reliably. The injections are made with a glass syringe held in the experimenter's hand and placed at approximate distances from the landmarks. Thus, this technique does not require a stereotaxic frame. Furthermore, this technique requires only brief isoflurane anesthesia, which permits the subsequent assessment of mouse behavior and/or physiology in awake, freely behaving mice. Free-hand ICV injection is a powerful tool for the efficient delivery of experimental agents into the brains of living mice and can be combined with other techniques such as frequent blood sampling, neural circuit manipulation, or in vivo recording to investigate neuroendocrine processes.

The delivery of experimental agents, such as drugs1, viruses2, or cells3, to the brain is often necessary for neuroendocrine research. If the agent does not readily cross the blood-brain barrier or the experimental objective is to specifically test the central effects of the agent, it is important to have a reliable method for delivering injections into the brain. Moreover, injection into the intracerebroventricular (ICV) space provides the opportunity to distribute the agent widely in the brain and provides a large target area, thus increasing the likelihood of successful injection

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