The hyh mouse carrying a point mutation in the gene encoding for soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor (NSF) attachment protein alpha (α-SNAP) develops inherited hydrocephalus. The investigation was designed to study: (i) the clinical evolution of hyh mice; (ii) factors other than the α-SNAP mutation that may influence the expression of hydrocephalus; (iii) the neuropathological features underlying the different forms of clinical evolution. The study included 3017 mice, 22.4% of which were hydrocephalic. The neuropathological study was performed in 112 mice by use of light and electron microscopy. It was found that maternal- and sex-related factors are involved in the heterogeneous expression of hyh phenotype. The clinical evolution recorded throughout a 4-year period also revealed a heterogeneous expression of the hydrocephalic phenotype. Two subpopulations were distinguished: (i) 70% of mice underwent a rapidly progressive hydrocephalus and died during the first 2 months of life; they presented macrocephaly, extremely large expansion of the ventricles, equilibrium impairment and decreased motor activity. (ii) Mice with slowly progressive hydrocephalus (30%) survived for periods ranging between 2 months and 2 years. They had no or moderate macrocephaly; moderate ventricular dilatation and preserved general motor activity; they all presented spontaneous ventriculostomies communicating the ventricles with the subarachnoid space, indicating that such communications play a key role in the long survival of these mice. The hyh mutant represents an ideal animal model to investigate how do the brain "adapt" to a virtually life-lasting hydrocephalus.
- α-SNAP mutation
- Heterogeneous expression of phenotype
- hyh mice
- Inherited hydrocephalus
- Long-term hydrocephalus
- Spontaneous ventriculostomies