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Open Access Behavioral Assessment of Vision in Pigs

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Swine (Sus scrofa) are often the 'gold standard' laboratory animal for ophthalmology research due to the anatomic and physiologic similarities between the porcine and human eye and retina. Despite the importance of this model, few tools for behavioral vision assessment in pigs are available. The aim of this study was to identify and validate a feasible and reproducible behavioral test to assess vision in a pig model of photoreceptor degeneration. In addition, a robust behavioral test will reduce stress and enhance enrichment by allowing animals opportunities for environmental exploration and by reducing the number of invasive experimental procedures. Two distinct behavioral approaches were tested: the obstacle-course test and temperament test. In the obstacle-course test, pigs were challenged (after an initial training period) to navigate a 10-object obstacle course; time and the number of collisions with the objects were recorded. In the temperament test, the time needed for pigs to complete 3 different tasks (human-approach, novel-object, and open-door tests) was recorded. The obstacle-course test revealed significant differences in time and number of collisions between swine with vision impairment and control animals, and the training period proved to be pivotal to avoid bias due to individual animal characteristics. In contrast, the temperament test was not altered by vision impairment but was validated to measure stress and behavioral alterations in laboratory pigs undergoing experimental procedures, thus achieving marked refinement of the study.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Veterinary Medical Sciences, University of Bologna, Ozzano Emilia, Italy 2: Vaccine Research Center, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 3: Department of Veterinary Medical Sciences, University of Bologna, Ozzano Emilia, Italy;, Email: [email protected] 4: Center for Synaptic Neuroscience and Technology, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Genova, Italy

Publication date: July 1, 2018

This article was made available online on July 2, 2018 as a Fast Track article with title: "Behavioral Assessment of Vision in Pigs".

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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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