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The Utility of Grimace Scales for Practical Pain Assessment in Laboratory Animals

Neurophysiology, Behavior and Animal Welfare Assessment, DPAA, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Xochimilco Campus, Ciudad de México 04960, CDMX, Mexico
Division of Biotechnology—Bioterio and Experimental Surgery, Instituto Nacional de Rehabilitación-Luis Guillermo Ibarra Ibarra (INR-LGII), Tlalpan 14389, CDMX, Mexico
Department of Clinical Studies and Surgery, Facultad de Estudios Superiores Cuautiltán UNAM, Cuautitlán Izcalli 54714, Estado de México, Mexico
Graduate and Research Department, Facultad de Medicina Veterinaria y Zootecnia, Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas, Cd Victoria 87000, Tamaulipas, Mexico
School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, University of Adelaide, Roseworthy Campus, SA 5116, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(10), 1838;
Received: 4 September 2020 / Revised: 16 September 2020 / Accepted: 22 September 2020 / Published: 9 October 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Refinements to Animal Models for Biomedical Research)
Grimace scales for laboratory animals were first reported ten years ago. Yet, despite their promise as pain assessment tools it appears that they have not been implemented widely in animal research establishments for clinical pain assessment. We discuss potential reasons for this based on the knowledge gained to date on their use and suggest avenues for further research, which might improve uptake of their use in laboratory animal medicine.
Animals’ facial expressions are widely used as a readout for emotion. Scientific interest in the facial expressions of laboratory animals has centered primarily on negative experiences, such as pain, experienced as a result of scientific research procedures. Recent attempts to standardize evaluation of facial expressions associated with pain in laboratory animals has culminated in the development of “grimace scales”. The prevention or relief of pain in laboratory animals is a fundamental requirement for in vivo research to satisfy community expectations. However, to date it appears that the grimace scales have not seen widespread implementation as clinical pain assessment techniques in biomedical research. In this review, we discuss some of the barriers to implementation of the scales in clinical laboratory animal medicine, progress made in automation of collection, and suggest avenues for future research. View Full-Text
Keywords: facial expressions; pain; grimace scales; mice; rat; rabbit facial expressions; pain; grimace scales; mice; rat; rabbit
MDPI and ACS Style

Mota-Rojas, D.; Olmos-Hernández, A.; Verduzco-Mendoza, A.; Hernández, E.; Martínez-Burnes, J.; Whittaker, A.L. The Utility of Grimace Scales for Practical Pain Assessment in Laboratory Animals. Animals 2020, 10, 1838.

AMA Style

Mota-Rojas D, Olmos-Hernández A, Verduzco-Mendoza A, Hernández E, Martínez-Burnes J, Whittaker AL. The Utility of Grimace Scales for Practical Pain Assessment in Laboratory Animals. Animals. 2020; 10(10):1838.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Mota-Rojas, Daniel, Adriana Olmos-Hernández, Antonio Verduzco-Mendoza, Elein Hernández, Julio Martínez-Burnes, and Alexandra L. Whittaker. 2020. "The Utility of Grimace Scales for Practical Pain Assessment in Laboratory Animals" Animals 10, no. 10: 1838.

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