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Open Access Identification of Markers for Imminent Death in Mice used in Longevity and Aging Research

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Abstract:

The goal of this study was to identify objective criteria that would reliably predict imminent death in aged mice. Male and female ICR mice (age, 8 mo) were subcutaneously implanted with an identification chip for remote measurement of body temperature. Mice then were weighed and monitored regularly until spontaneous death occurred or until euthanasia was administered for humane reasons. Clinical signs that signaled implementation of euthanasia included inability to walk, lack of response to manipulation, large or ulcerated tumors, seizures, and palpable hypothermia. In mice that died spontaneously, gradual weight loss was the most frequent and earliest sign of imminent death. Hypothermia developed during the 2 wk prior to death. Slow or labored breathing were observed in about half of the mice before death. A composite score of temperature × weight can be used to provide an objective benchmark to signal increased observation or euthanasia of individual mice. Such assessment may allow the collection of terminal tissue samples without markedly altering longevity data, although application of this criterion may not be appropriate for all studies of longevity. Timely euthanasia of mice based on validated markers of imminent death can allow implementation of endpoints that alleviate terminal distress in aged mice, may not significantly affect longevity data, and can permit timely collection of biologic samples.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Medical Microbiology, Immunology, and Cell Biology, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Springfield, Illinois 2: Department of Laboratory Animal Medicine, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Springfield, Illinois 3: Department of Medical Education, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Springfield, Illinois 4: Department of Medicine, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Springfield, Illinois 5: Department of Pharmacology, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Springfield, Illinois

Publication date: 2010-05-01

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  • 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.

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