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Journal: Lab animal


Domesticated porcine species are commonly used in studies of wound healing, owing to similarities between porcine skin and human skin. Such studies often involve wound dressings, and keeping these dressings intact on the animal can be a challenge. The authors describe a novel and simple technique for constructing a fitted neoprene garment for pigs that covers dressings and maintains their integrity during experiments.

Concepts: Scar, Wound healing, Mammal, Pig, Wild boar, Domestic pig, Suidae, Bearded Pig


Evaluating the behavior of mice and rats has substantially contributed to the progress of research in many scientific fields. Researchers commonly observe recorded video of animal behavior and manually record their observations for later analysis, but this approach has several limitations. The authors developed an automated system for tracking and analyzing the behavior of rodents that is based on radio frequency identification (RFID) in an ultra-high-frequency bandwidth. They provide an overview of the system’s hardware and software components as well as describe their technique for surgically implanting passive RFID tags in mice. Finally, the authors present the findings of two validation studies to compare the accuracy of the RFID system versus commonly used approaches for evaluating the locomotor activity and object exploration of mice.

Concepts: Scientific method, Psychology, Rat, Rodent, Ultra high frequency, RFID, Radio-frequency identification, Ubiquitous computing


Handling a rodent disease outbreak in a facility can be a challenge. After the University of Colorado Denver Office of Laboratory Animal Resources enhanced its sentinel monitoring program, > 90% of the animal colonies housed in a vivarium at the Anschutz Medical Campus (with an area of 50,000 net ft(2)), serving the labs of > 250 principal investigators, tested positive for multiple infective agents including mouse parvovirus, fur mites, pinworms and epizootic diarrhea of infant mice. The authors detail the process by which they planned and executed a shutdown and a decontamination of the facility, which involved the rederivation or cryopreservation of > 400 unique genetically modified mouse lines. The authors discuss the aspects of the project that were successful as well as those that could have been improved.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Rat, Rodent, Mouse, Colorado, University of Colorado Denver, Denver, Anschutz Medical Campus


Repeated, low-dose administration of streptozotocin (STZ) is widely used to induce insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus in mice. The authors adapted this method using neonatal mice and determined the long-term effects of STZ injection in the mice. After receiving intraperitoneal injections of STZ at postnatal day 3 (P3), P4 and P8, male and female mice were hyperglycemic by week 4. A clear sex difference was found, with blood glucose levels in STZ-treated males remaining higher than those in STZ-treated females until week 23. Whereas STZ-treated males remained hyperglycemic until week 23, STZ-treated females did not have significantly higher glucose levels than control mice after week 18. Additionally, STZ-treated mice had neoplastic lesions in their livers by week 4, with a progression in the severity of these lesions until week 24. The results confirm that, in addition to pancreatic beta cell toxicity, STZ has an oncogenic effect on the liver when administered to neonates.

Concepts: Male, Insulin, Diabetes mellitus, Glucose, Liver, Blood sugar, Gender, Sex


Embryo transfer is a surgical technique that is widely used in reproductive biotechnology. Despite the ethical obligation to relieve animals' post-operative pain, analgesia is not routinely provided after embryo transfer surgery because it has been suggested that analgesics may be detrimental to embryo survival. Studies suggest, however, that the potential for adverse effects varies depending on the type of analgesic used and the timing of its administration. The authors carried out a study to determine whether pre-operatively administered tramadol, a synthetic analogue of codeine, influenced birth rate, litter survival or the post-operative body weights of surrogate dams. Compared with controls that were not given any analgesic, surrogate dams given tramadol had similar birth rates and similar body weights at all time points. The tramadol-treated surrogate dams showed a statistically significant increase in the number of offspring that survived to weaning. The authors conclude that pre-operatively administered tramadol does not harm the success rate of embryo transfer surgery and even may improve litter survival.

Concepts: Opioid, Paracetamol, Morphine, Analgesic, Hydrocodone, Tramadol, Codeine, Analgesics


Rabbits are commonly used in biomedical research and might undergo potentially painful procedures during the course of a study. This column discusses the rabbit facial grimace scale as a tool for monitoring post-procedural pain and explains how it can be incorporated into a worksheet for evaluating rabbit wellness.


This focus issue of Lab Animal coincides with a tipping point in biomedical research. For the first time, the scale of the reproducibility and translatability crisis is widely understood beyond the small cadre of researchers who have been studying it and the pharmaceutical and biotech companies who have been living it. Here we argue that an emerging literature, including the papers in this focus issue, has begun to congeal around a set of recurring themes, which themselves represent a paradigm shift. This paradigm shift can be characterized at the micro level as a shift from asking “what have we controlled for in this model?” to asking “what have we chosen to ignore in this model, and at what cost?” At the macro level, it is a shift from viewing animals as tools (the furry test tube), to viewing them as patients in an equivalent human medical study. We feel that we are witnessing the birth of a new discipline, which we term Therioepistemology, or the study of how knowledge is gained from animal research. In this paper, we outline six questions that serve as a heuristic for critically evaluating animal-based biomedical research from a therioepistemological perspective. These six questions sketch out the broad reaches of this new discipline, though they may change or be added to as this field evolves. Ultimately, by formalizing therioepistemology as a discipline, we can begin to discuss best practices that will improve the reproducibility and translatability of animal-based research, with concomitant benefits in terms of human health and animal well-being.

Concepts: Scientific method, Medicine, Biology, Epistemology, Model organism, Animal testing, Philosophy of science, Medical research


In the version of this Technology Feature originally published, André Maia Chagas' lab affiliation was omitted and the name of his institution, The Centre for Integrative Neuroscience, was incorrectly written. This has now been corrected.


The gut microbiome is increasingly recognized to play an important role in shaping the health and fitness of animals, including humans. Drosophila is emerging as a valuable model for microbiome research, combining genetic and genomic resources with simple protocols to manipulate the microbiome, such that microbiologically sterile flies and flies bearing a standardized microbiota can readily be produced in large numbers. Studying Drosophila has the potential to increase our understanding of how the microbiome influences host traits, and allows opportunities for hypothesis testing of microbial impacts on human health. Drosophila is being used to investigate aspects of host-microbe interactions, including the metabolism, the immune system and behavior. Drosophila offers a valuable alternative to rodent and other mammalian models of microbiome research for fundamental discovery of microbiome function, enabling improved research cost effectiveness and benefits for animal welfare.


In the field and in the lab, scientists across the globe are working to better understand the biology of the bat.

Concepts: Evolution