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Open Access Cohousing Male Mice with and without Segmental Bone Defects

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Spaceflight results in bone loss like that associated with osteoporosis or decreased weight-bearing (for example, high-energy trauma such as explosive injuries and automobile accidents). Thus, the unique spaceflight laboratory on the International Space Station presents the opportunity to test bone healing agents during weightlessness. We are collaborating with NASA and the US Army to study bone healing in spaceflight. Given the unique constraints of spaceflight, study design optimization was required. Male mice were selected primarily because their femur is larger than females', allowing for more reproducible surgical outcomes. However, concern was raised regarding male mouse aggression. In addition, the original spaceflight study design included cohousing nonoperated control mice with mice that had undergone surgery to create a segmental bone defect. This strategy prompted the concern that nonoperated mice would exhibit aggressive behavior toward vulnerable operated mice. We hypothesized that operated and nonoperated male mice could be cohoused successfully when they were cagemates since birth and underwent identical anesthetic, analgesic, preoperative, and postoperative conditions. Using quantitative behavioral scoring, body weight, and organ weight analyses (Student t test and ANOVA), we found that nonoperated and operated C57BL/6 male mice could successfully be housed together. The male mice did not exhibit aggressive behavior toward cagemates, whether operated or nonoperated, and the mice did not show evidence of stress, as indicated by veterinary assessment, or change in body or proportional organ weights. These findings allowed our mission to proceed (launched February 2017) and may inform future surgical study designs, potentially increasing housing flexibility.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA 2: Laboratory Animal Resource Center, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA 3: Department of Biomedical and Applied Sciences, Indiana University School of Dentistry, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA 4: Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA., Email: [email protected]

Publication date: April 1, 2018

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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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