Preclinical Phenotyping

Mouse in vivo test systems and surgical services

The preclinical phenotyping facility (pcPHENO) provides state-of-the-art equipment and services for in vivo testing of mouse behavior, metabolism, and physiology as well as surgical services..

After training and under expert supervision, researchers can perform experiments by themselves or use our services, ranging from planning and performing experiments to final data analysis and interpretation.


Behavioral tests

We offer a wide range of mouse behavioral tests including the following neurological areas:

  • motoric functions
  • learning and memory processes
  • anxiety-like and depressive behavior
  • social behavior
  • repetitive behavior
  • sensory functions (olfaction, acoustic functions, vision, thermal and mechanical nociception)

To read more about the range of behavioral tests we can perform, please click here.

Metabolic measurements

We can measure the metabolic parameters of mice during the day and night under defined light-cycle, temperature, and humidity conditions, automatically measuring food intake, liquid intake, respiratory exchange rate, calorie consumption, and home cage or running wheel activity. We can offer preference tests for different diets or liquids, or feeding experiments with controlled access to food.

Cardiovascular and body temperature measurements

We can measure heart rate, as well as systolic and diastolic blood pressure in restrained mice at chosen time points using a non-invasive tail cuff method.

Alternatively, we offer the possibility of performing continuous telemetry recordings using implanted transmitters that record the electrocardiogram (ECG) and blood pressure within the aortic arch. These measurements can be recorded at chosen sample intervals or continuously as the mouse moves freely in the cage. We can also record the core body temperature using implanted telemetry transmitters.

Surgical services

We offer a wide range of surgeries on mice including:

  • implantation of telemetry transmitters, mini-osmotic pumps, or optogenetic fibers
  • application of lenses for calcium-imaging
  • microdialysis
  • creating models of traumatic brain injury
  • stereotactic injections
  • perfusions
  • blood and cerebrospinal fluid sampling


The IntelliCage allows us to assess cognitive functions and behavior of individual mice while living in a social environment. Mice are automatically identified by the system using subcutaneously implanted RFID chips and a broad spectrum of conditioning paradigms can be run in an automated experimenter-independent manner. Read more...

The Noldus CatWalk system allows for high-throughput gait analysis under non-stressful conditions as well as detailed footprint analysis. A detailed footprint analysis with intensities of body weight distribution can give indications about the motoric functions of the mice and can detect e.g., pain-related weight shifts. In addition, the gait pattern can be analyzed from below. Read more...


The following parameters can be measured from up to 12 single-housed mice:

  • food consumption
  • liquid consumption
  • oxygen consumption
  • CO2 production
  • locomotion activity plus rearing activity
  • running wheel activity

The PhenoMaster cages are located inside a climate chamber allowing for user-defined light-cycle, temperature, and humidity.

The following parameters can be measured continuously using implanted telemetry transmitters:

  • core body temperature
  • locomotor activity
  • electrocardiogram
  • blood pressure

These measurements can also be made inside the PhenoMaster and thus combined with other metabolic parameters.


In general, we offer four types of access to our shared research infrastructure:

  1. Research projects
  2. Full research services
  3. Trained user access | user labs
  4. Shared technology platform

Typically, these are set but not limited by the offered technology or instrument, and differ in the required user expertise, the usability of a technology, the user’s pre- and postprocessing input, and the underlying operational models.

Research project

Research projects are the equivalent of contract research organizations (CRO). The customer submits the starting material/sample and receives the ready-to-use data for publication. Hence, core facility members are often co-authoring and involved in the entire publication process.

Full research service

The user submits the sample, we perform a pre-defined workflow (incl. QC) and process the raw data. Data interpretation or contributions to publications cannot be offered in this service mode.

Trained user access | User labs

VBCF experts maintain an instrument park and train users to operate it. This requires a certain level of expertise, maturity of the offered technology, a hands-on attitude and reliability from the user.

Shared technology platform | Instrument park

These technologies require expert knowledge to run the offered instruments. Experts are hired by one of the research institutes on the Vienna BioCenter Campus. The experts maintain an instrument park, run the experiments and train other trainers. Machines can only be operated by experts.


Pc PHENO services can be accessed via research projects. The facility also provides full research service and trained user access.

Please provide us with a current health certificate from your animal facility before transferring mice to us and coordinate this transfer as well as all animal license regulations with the pcPHENO staff. In general, behavioral experiments require large group sizes. Thus, please consider the appropriate group sizes for experimental animals and controls. If possible, avoid single-housing of mice and toe- or tail-clipping for motor function tests. Ear-notching is preferred. Mouse housing and colony management capacities are available upon request.

In general, the VBCF’s general cooperation conditions apply. Please contact sylvia.badurek(at) for further information and to discuss your specific project needs.

We require acknowledgement of facility use in publications. A simple statement is sufficient and can be placed in the Materials and Methods section or in the Acknowledgments section, depending on the journal format.

Suggested format:
The XXXXXX was performed by the Preclinical Phenotyping Facility at Vienna BioCenter Core Facilities (VBCF), member of the Vienna BioCenter (VBC), Austria.

In case of (co-)authorship:
The Vienna BioCenter Core Facilities (VBCF) Preclinical Phenotyping Facility acknowledges funding from the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science & Research; and the City of Vienna.



Gpcpd1-GPC metabolic pathway is dysfunctional in aging and its deficiency severely perturbs glucose metabolism. Domagoj Cikes, Michael Leutner, Shane J F Cronin, Maria Novatchkova, Lorenz Pfleger, Radka Klepochová, Benjamin Lair, Marlène Lac, Camille Bergoglio, Nathalie Viguerie, Gerhard Dürnberger, Elisabeth Roitinger, Mihaela Grivej, Eric Rullman, Thomas Gustafsson, Astrid Hagelkruys, Geneviève Tavernier, Virginie Bourlier, Claude Knauf, Michael Krebs, Alexandra Kautzky-Willer, Cedric Moro, Martin Krssak, Michael Orthofer, Josef M Penninger. 2024 Jan;4(1):80-94.doi: 10.1038/s43587-023-00551-6. Epub 2024 Jan 18.

ACOD1 deficiency offers protection in a mouse model of diet-induced obesity by maintaining a healthy gut microbiotaTanja Eberhart, Federico Uchenna Stanley, Luisa Ricci 1, Tiziana Chirico, Roberto Ferrarese, Sofia Sisti, Alessandra Scagliola, Andreina Baj, Sylvia Badurek, Andreas Sommer, Rachel Culp-Hill, Monika Dzieciatkowska, Engy Shokry, David Sumpton, Angelo D'Alessandro, Nicola Clementi, Nicasio Mancini, Simone Cardaci. 2024 Feb 1;15(2):105. doi: 10.1038/s41419-024-06483-2. PMID:38302438

A whole-genome scan for Artemisinin cytotoxicity reveals a novel therapy for human brain tumors. Taubenschmid-Stowers J, Orthofer M, Laemmerer A, Krauditsch C, Rózsová M, Studer C, Lötsch D, Gojo J, Gabler L, Dyczynski M, Efferth T, Hagelkruys A, Widhalm G, Peyrl A, Spiegl-Kreinecker S, Hoepfner D, Bian S, Berger W, Knoblich JA, Elling U, Horn M, Penninger JM.EMBO Mol Med. 2023 Mar 8;15(3):e16959. doi: 10.15252/emmm.202216959. Epub 2023 Feb 6.PMID: 36740985

PCYT2-regulated lipid biosynthesis is critical to muscle health and ageing. Cikes D, Elsayad K, Sezgin E, Koitai E, Ferenc T, Orthofer M, Yarwood R, Heinz LX, Sedlyarov V, Miranda ND, Taylor A, Grapentine S, Al-Murshedi F, Abot A, Weidinger A, Kutchukian C, Sanchez C, Cronin SJF, Novatchkova M, Kavirayani A, Schuetz T, Haubner B, Haas L, Hagelkruys A, Jackowski S, Kozlov A, Jacquemond V, Knauf C, Superti-Furga G, Rullman E, Gustafsson T, McDermot J, Lowe M, Radak Z, Chamberlain JS, Bakovic M, Banka S, Penninger JM. Nat Metab. 2023 Mar 20. doi: 10.1038/s42255-023-00766-2. Epub ahead of print.

Z-Disk-Associated Plectin (Isoform 1d): Spatial Arrangement, Interaction Partners, and Role in Filamin C Homeostasis. Winter L, Staszewska-Daca I, Zittrich S, Elhamine F, Zrelski MM, Schmidt K, Fischer I, Jüngst C, Schauss A, Goldmann WH, Stehle R, Wiche G.Cells. 2023 Apr 26;12(9):1259. doi: 10.3390/cells12091259.PMID: 37174658 

A systematic review of the development and application of home cage monitoring in laboratory mice and rats. Pia Kahnau, Paul Mieske, Jenny Wilzopolski, Otto Kalliokoski, Silvia Mandillo, Sabine M. Hölter, Vootele Voikar, Adriana Amfim, Sylvia Badurek, Aleksandra Bartelik, Angela Caruso, Maša Čater, Elodie Ey, Elisabetta Golini, Anne Jaap, Dragan Hrncic, Anna Kiryk, Benjamin Lang, Natasa Loncarevic-Vasiljkovic, Hamid Meziane, Aurelija Radzevičienė, Marion Rivalan, Maria Luisa Scattoni, Nicolas Torquet, Julijana Trifkovic, Brun Ulfhake, Christa Thöne-Reineke, Kai Diederich, Lars Lewejohann & Katharina Hohlbaum. BMC Biology. 2023 Nov 13.

Adult neural stem cells and neurogenesis are resilient to intermittent fasting Rut Gabarró-Solanas, Amarbayasgalan Davaatseren, Justus Kleifeld, Tatjana Kepčija, Thomas Köcher, Albert Giralt, Iván Crespo-Enríquez, Noelia Urbán. EMBO Rep. 2023 Nov 21.doi: 10.15252/embr.202357268. Online ahead of print.


Phenotypic drug screen uncovers the metabolic GCH1/BH4 pathway as key regulator of EGFR/KRAS-mediated neuropathic pain and lung cancer. Cronin SJF, Rao S, Tejada MA, Turnes BL, Licht-Mayer S, Omura T, Brenneis C, Jacobs E, Barrett L, Latremoliere A, Andrews N, Channon KM, Latini A, Arvanites AC, Davidow LS, Costigan M, Rubin LL, Penninger JM, Woolf CJ. Sci Transl Med. 2022 14(660):eabj1531.

The HUSH complex controls brain architecture and protocadherin fidelity. Hagelkruys A, Horrer M, Taubenschmid-Stowers J, Kavirayani A, Novatchkova M, Orthofer M, Pai TP, Cikes D, Zhuk S, Balmaña M, Esk C, Koglgruber R, Moeseneder P, Lazovic J, Zopf LM, Cronin SJF, Elling U, Knoblich JA, Penninger JM. Sci Adv. 2022 8(44):eabo7247.

Neuropeptide Neuromedin B does not alter body weight and glucose homeostasis nor does it act as an insulin-releasing peptide. Cikes D, Atanes P, Cronin SJF, Hagelkrüys A, Huang GC, Persaud SJ, Penninger JM. Sci Rep. 2022 12(1):9383

Dissociation of impulsive traits by subthalamic metabotropic glutamate receptor 4. Piszczek L, Constantinescu A, Kargl D, Lazovic J, Pekcec A, Nicholson JR, Haubensak W. Elife. 2022 11:e62123.

FIBCD1 is an endocytic GAG receptor associated with a novel neurodevelopmental disorder. Fell CW, Hagelkruys A, Cicvaric A, Horrer M, Liu L, Li JSS, Stadlmann J, Polyansky AA, Mereiter S, Tejada MA, Kokotović T, Achuta VS, Scaramuzza A, Twyman KA, Morrow MM, Juusola J, Yan H, Wang J, Burmeister M, Choudhury B, Andersen TL, Wirnsberger G, Holmskov U, Perrimon N, Žagrović B, Monje FJ, Moeller JB, Penninger JM, Nagy V. EMBO Mol Med. 2022 e15829.

Nociceptin/orphanin FQ opioid receptor (NOP) selective ligand MCOPPB links anxiolytic and senolytic effects. Raffaele M, Kovacovicova K, Biagini T, Lo Re O, Frohlich J, Giallongo S, Nhan JD, Giannone AG, Cabibi D, Ivanov M, Tonchev AB, Mistrik M, Lacey M, Dzubak P, Gurska S, Hajduch M, Bartek J, Mazza T, Micale V, Curran SP, Vinciguerra M. Geroscience. 2021 24:1–21.

Towards best practices in research: Role of academic core facilities. Restivo L, Gerlach B, Tsoory M, Bikovski L, Badurek S, Pitzer C, Kos-Braun IC, Mausset-Bonnefont AM, Ward J, Schunn M, Noldus LP, Bespalov A, Voikar V. EMBO Rep. 2021:e53824.

PRDM12 Is Transcriptionally Active and Required for Nociceptor Function Throughout Life. Kokotović T, Langeslag M, Lenartowicz EM, Manion J, Fell CW, Alehabib E, Tafakhori A, Darvish H, Bellefroid EJ, Neely GG, Kress M, Penninger JM, Nagy V. Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience, 14, 192.    

Central amygdala circuit dynamics underlying the benzodiazepine anxiolytic effect. Griessner J, Pasieka M, Böhm V, Grössl F, Kaczanowska J, Pliota P, Kargl D, Werner B, Kaouane N, Strobelt S, Kreitz S, Hess A, Haubensak W. Mol Psychiatry 2021 26(2):534-544.

Central amygdala circuitry modulates nociceptive processing through differential hierarchical interaction with affective network dynamics. Wank, I., Pliota, P., Badurek, S., Kraitsy, K., Kaczanowska J., Griessner J., Kreitz S., Hess A., Haubensak W. Commun Biol 2021 4, 732.

Rapid nucleus-scale reorganization of chromatin in neurons enables transcriptional adaptation for memory consolidation. Peter M, Aschauer DF, Rose R, Sinning A, Grössl F, Kargl D, Kraitsy K, Burkard TR, Luhmann HJ, Haubensak W, Rumpel S. PLoS One. 2021 16(5):e0244038

Plectin dysfunction in neurons leads to tau accumulation on microtubules affecting neuritogenesis, organelle trafficking, pain sensitivity and memory. Valencia RG, Mihailovska E, Winter L, Bauer K, Fischer I, Walko G, Jorgacevski J, Potokar M, Zorec R, Wiche G. Neuropathol Appl Neurobiol. 2021, 47(1):73-95.

Stress peptides sensitize fear circuitry to promote passive coping. Pliota P, Boehm V, Groessl F, Griessner J, Valenti O, Kraitsy K, Kaczanowska J, Pasieka M, Lendl T, Deussing JM, Haubensak W [2020] Mol. Psychiatry 25:428–441

Identification of ALK in Thinness. Orthofer M et al. [2020], Cell 181(6):1246-1262.e22.

HACE1 deficiency leads to structural and functional neurodevelopmental defects. Nagy V et al., [2019] Neurol Genet Jun 2019, 5 (3) e330

Dorsal tegmental dopamine neuron gate associative learning of fear. Groessl F, Munsch T, Meis S, Griessner J, Kaczanowska J, Pliota P, Kargl D, Badurek S, Kraitsy K, Rassoulpour A, Zuber J, Lessmann V, Haubensak W [2018] Nat. Neurosci 21(7):952-62

Central amygdala circuit dynamics underlying the benzodiazepine anxiolytic effect. Griessner J et al., [2018] Mol Psychiatry

RNA editing of Filamin A pre-mRNA regulates vascular contraction and diastolic blood pressure. Jain M et al., [2018] EMBO J, 37

Virtual reality for freely moving animals. Stowers JR et al., [2017] Nature Methods 10:995-1002

Neuromuscular synapse integrity requires linkage of acetylcholine receptors to postsynaptic intermediate filament networks via rapsyn-plectin 1f complexes. Mihailovska E, Raith M, Valencia RG, Fischer I, Banchaabouchi MA, Herbst R, Wiche G [2014] Mol Biol Cell 25: 4130-4149