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Open Access The Time-to-Integrate-to-Nest Test as an Indicator of Wellbeing in Laboratory Mice

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Minimizing and alleviating pain and distress in laboratory mice without compromising the methodologic integrity of research is a crucial goal. However, current methods for welfare assessment in mice are not well suited to cageside checks. In the present study, we developed a simple assessment tool—the time-to-integrate-to-nest test (TINT)—and evaluated its ability to identify mice with compromised welfare. To conduct the TINT, a nominal amount of nesting material is added to a mouse cage, and the nesting behaviors that occur immediately thereafter are observed. The TINT yields a positive result when a mouse integrates the new nesting material into the main nest site within 10 min; failure to interact with the nesting material is defined as a negative TINT. Our first experiment examined whether genetic background and sex are associated with differences in the likelihood of a positive TINT in unmanipulated mice. A significant effect related to mouse strain was found: C3H/HeNCrl had the lowest positive TINT rate among the 10 strains evaluated. A second experiment assessed whether results of the TINT would be altered after a painful surgical procedure, such as carotid artery injury. Despite all mice having received buprenorphine as analgesia at the time of surgery, significantly more mice had a negative TINT for 2 d after surgery than before surgery. Based on the results of the current study, additional work is needed to specifically validate the TINT in injured and noninjured subjects.

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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, North Grafton, Massachusetts, USA. [email protected] 2: Department of Clinical Sciences, Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, North Grafton, Massachusetts, USA 3: Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, North Grafton, Massachusetts, USA 4: Charles River, Research Models and Services, Wilmington, Massachusetts, USA 5: Molecular Cardiology Research Institute, Tufts Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Publication date: January 1, 2014

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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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