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Open Access Cortisol and Prolactin Concentrations During Repeated Blood Sample Collection from Freely Moving, Mouse-sized Mammals (Phodopus spp.)

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Background and Purpose: Validation of a method for obtaining blood samples that does not change cortisol or prolactin concentrations yet allows serial blood samples to be collected from animals under anesthesia, without prior handling, from freely interacting social groups of small mammals.

Methods: Results from five experiments are reported. Male dwarf hamsters (Phodopus spp.) were housed in modified home cages under continuous flow of compressed air that could be switched to isoflurane in O2 vehicle without approaching the cages.

Results: Dwarf hamsters respond to manual restraint with behavioral distress and increase in the concentration of the dominant glucocorticoid, cortisol, and decrease in prolactin concentration. Both effects are evident within one minute. In contrast, when this new method was used, neither cortisol nor prolactin changed in response to repeated sample collection (up to 8 successive samples at 2 hour intervals), prolonged isoflurane exposure, or substantial blood volume reduction (30%). Prolactin concentration was suppressed and cortisol concentration was increased in response to stimuli from other hamsters tested without anesthesia. Suppression of prolactin concentration was graded in response to the degree of stress and equaled the pharmacologic reduction caused by bromocryptine mesylate (50 g of CB154 x 3 days).

Conclusions: The technique is superior to alternatives for studies of behavioral endocrinology of freely interacting small mammals.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2000

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  • Comparative Medicine (CM), an international journal of comparative and experimental medicine, is the leading English-language publication in the field and is ranked by the Science Citation Index in the upper third of all scientific journals. The mission of CM is to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed information that expands biomedical knowledge and promotes human and animal health through the study of laboratory animal disease, animal models of disease, and basic biologic mechanisms related to disease in people and animals.

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