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Open Access Laboratory Routines Cause Animal Stress

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Eighty published studies were appraised to document the potential stress associated with three routine laboratory procedures commonly performed on animals: handling, blood collection, and orogastric gavage. We defined handling as any non-invasive manipulation occurring as part of routine husbandry, including lifting an animal and cleaning or moving an animal's cage. Significant changes in physiologic parameters correlated with stress (e.g., serum or plasma concentrations of corticosterone, glucose, growth hormone or prolactin, heart rate, blood pressure, and behavior) were associated with all three procedures in multiple species in the studies we examined. The results of these studies demonstrated that animals responded with rapid, pronounced, and statistically significant elevations in stress-related responses for each of the procedures, although handling elicited variable alterations in immune system responses. Changes from baseline or control measures typically ranged from 20% to 100% or more and lasted at least 30 min or longer. We interpret these findings to indicate that laboratory routines are associated with stress, and that animals do not readily habituate to them. The data suggest that significant fear, stress, and possibly distress are predictable consequences of routine laboratory procedures, and that these phenomena have substantial scientific and humane implications for the use of animals in laboratory research.

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Document Type: Short Communication

Affiliations: Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, 5100 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, Suite 400, Washington, D.C. 20016

Publication date: 01 November 2004

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (JAALAS) serves as an official communication vehicle for the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS). The journal includes a section of refereed articles and a section of AALAS association news. The mission of the refereed section of the journal is to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed information on animal biology, technology, facility operations, management, and compliance as relevant to the AALAS membership. JAALAS accepts research reports (data-based) or scholarly reports (literature-based), with the caveat that all articles, including solicited manuscripts, must include appropriate references and must undergo peer review.

    Attention Members: To access the full text of the articles, be sure you are logged in to the AALAS website.

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