Special Issue "Laboratory Animals"

A special issue of Animals (ISSN 2076-2615). This special issue belongs to the section "Animal Welfare".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2021).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Nélida Fernández
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Pharmacology, Department of Biomedical Sciences and Institute of Biomedicine (IBIOMED), Veterinary Faculty, University of Leon, Leon, Spain
Interests: experimental pharmacology; pharmacokinetics; laboratory animals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Scientific research using laboratory animals has contributed significantly to the improvement of human health. Despite this fact, everything possible must be done to reduce the number of animals used and to develop alternative methods. When laboratory animals are necessary, it is very important to reduce their suffering and improve their welfare.

For this Special Issue, we welcome original research articles on any aspect of the use of laboratory animals in research as well as those regarding their care and welfare. We will also accept articles about the development of alternative methods to replace laboratory animals. Review articles are also welcome.

Dr. Nélida Fernández
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Animals is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • laboratory animals
  • alternative methods
  • animal welfare
  • laboratory animal care

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

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Article
A Case Study on the Behavioural Effect of Positive Reinforcement Training in a Novel Task Participation Test in Göttingen Mini Pigs
Animals 2021, 11(6), 1610; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061610 - 29 May 2021
Viewed by 1734
Abstract
In laboratory animal research, many procedures will be stressful for the animals, as they are forced to participate. Training animals to cooperate using clicker training (CT) or luring (LU) may reduce stress levels, and thereby increase animal welfare. In zoo animals, aquarium animals, [...] Read more.
In laboratory animal research, many procedures will be stressful for the animals, as they are forced to participate. Training animals to cooperate using clicker training (CT) or luring (LU) may reduce stress levels, and thereby increase animal welfare. In zoo animals, aquarium animals, and pets, CT is used to train animals to cooperate during medical procedures, whereas in experimental research, LU seem to be the preferred training method. This descriptive case study aims to present the behaviour of CT and LU pigs in a potentially fear-evoking behavioural test—the novel task participation test—in which the pigs walked a short runway on a novel walking surface. All eight pigs voluntarily participated, and only one LU pig showed body stretching combined with lack of tail wagging indicating reduced welfare. All CT pigs and one LU pig displayed tail wagging during the test, indicating a positive mental state. Hence, training pigs to cooperate during experimental procedures resulted in a smooth completion of the task with no signs of fear or anxiety in seven out of eight animals. We suggest that training laboratory pigs prior to experimental procedures or tests should be done to ensure low stress levels. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Laboratory Animals)
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Article
Brexit: A Boon or a Curse for Animals Used in Scientific Procedures?
Animals 2021, 11(6), 1547; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061547 - 25 May 2021
Viewed by 1872
Abstract
The UK has long been hailed as one of the world leaders in animal welfare. Within the UK, animals used in experiments are provided some protection under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (ASPA). This Act was impacted by European Union (EU) Directive [...] Read more.
The UK has long been hailed as one of the world leaders in animal welfare. Within the UK, animals used in experiments are provided some protection under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (ASPA). This Act was impacted by European Union (EU) Directive 2010/63/EU, and subsequently the ASPA was updated to reflect any changes required. While the Directive is very similar to the protection the UK already afforded to animals used in experiments, there were some advances that the Directive provided that were not present in the ASPA. On paper, the changes introduced were promising but may not have been achieved in practice. In 2016, the British public voted to leave the EU, which presented concerns over animal welfare protection and legislation provided by EU law. With the completion of Brexit, there may be an opportunity to diverge from the Directive to advance protection for animals used in experiments. This article explores the influence that the EU has had on animal experimentation in the UK, the potential implications of Brexit on the welfare of animals used in experiments and suggests ways in which this protection can be progressed, with potentially more freedom to amend or introduce legislation to do so. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Laboratory Animals)
Article
Physiological and Clinical Responses in Pigs in Relation to Plasma Concentrations during Anesthesia with Dexmedetomidine, Tiletamine, Zolazepam, and Butorphanol
Animals 2021, 11(6), 1482; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061482 - 21 May 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 883 | Correction
Abstract
Reliable protocols for short-term anesthetics are essential to safeguard animal welfare during medical investigations. The aim of the study was to assess the adequacy and reliability of an anesthetic protocol and to evaluate physiological and clinical responses, in relation to the drug plasma [...] Read more.
Reliable protocols for short-term anesthetics are essential to safeguard animal welfare during medical investigations. The aim of the study was to assess the adequacy and reliability of an anesthetic protocol and to evaluate physiological and clinical responses, in relation to the drug plasma concentrations, for pigs undergoing short-term anesthesia. A second aim was to see whether an intravenous dosage could prolong the anesthesia. The anesthesia was induced by an intramuscular injection of dexmedetomidine, tiletamine-zolazepam, and butorphanol in 12 pigs. In six of the pigs, a repeated injection intravenously of one-third of the initial dose was given after one hour. The physiological and clinical effects from induction to recovery were examined. Plasma concentrations of the drugs were analyzed and pharmacokinetic parameters were calculated. Each drug’s absorption and time to maximal concentration were rapid. All pigs were able to maintain spontaneous respiration. The route of administration did not alter the half-life of the drug. The results suggest that intramuscular administration of the four-drug combination provides up to two hours of anesthesia with stable physiological parameters and an acceptable level of analgesia while maintaining spontaneous respiration. A repeated intravenous injection may be used to extend the time of anesthesia by 30 min. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Laboratory Animals)
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Article
Refinement of Animal Model of Colorectal Carcinogenesis through the Definition of Novel Humane Endpoints
Animals 2021, 11(4), 985; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11040985 - 01 Apr 2021
Viewed by 735
Abstract
This study aimed to define appropriate humane endpoints (HEs) for an animal model of colorectal carcinogenesis (CRC). Twenty-nine male Wistar rats were divided into two control groups (CTRL1 and CTRL2) injected with ethylenediamine tetraacetic acid (EDTA)–saline solutions and two induced groups (CRC1 and [...] Read more.
This study aimed to define appropriate humane endpoints (HEs) for an animal model of colorectal carcinogenesis (CRC). Twenty-nine male Wistar rats were divided into two control groups (CTRL1 and CTRL2) injected with ethylenediamine tetraacetic acid (EDTA)–saline solutions and two induced groups (CRC1 and CRC2) injected with 1,2-dimethylhydrazine (DMH) for seven weeks. A score sheet with 14 biological parameters was used to assess animal welfare. Groups CRC1 and CTRL1 and groups CRC2 and CTRL2 were euthanized 11 and 17 weeks after the first DMH administration, respectively. Five animals from the induced groups died unexpectedly during the protocol (survival rates of 75.0% and 66.7% for groups CRC1 and CRC2, respectively). The final mean body weight (BW) was smaller in the CRC groups when compared with that in the CTRL groups. A uniformity of characteristics preceding the premature animals’ death was observed, namely an increase of 10% in mean BW, swollen abdomen, diarrhea, and priapism. The surface abdominal temperature of group CRC2 was significantly higher, when compared with that of group CTRL2. The parameters already described in other cancer models proved to be insufficient. For the CRC model, we considered assessing the abdominal temperature, priapism, and sudden increase in the BW. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Laboratory Animals)
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Article
Housing, Husbandry and Welfare of a “Classic” Fish Model, the Paradise Fish (Macropodus opercularis)
Animals 2021, 11(3), 786; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11030786 - 11 Mar 2021
Viewed by 1211
Abstract
Thanks to its small size, external fertilization and fecundity, over the past four decades, zebrafish (Danio rerio) has become the dominant fish model species in biological and biomedical research. Multiple lines of evidence, however, suggest that the reliance on only a [...] Read more.
Thanks to its small size, external fertilization and fecundity, over the past four decades, zebrafish (Danio rerio) has become the dominant fish model species in biological and biomedical research. Multiple lines of evidence, however, suggest that the reliance on only a handful of genetic model organisms is problematic, as their unique evolutionary histories makes them less than ideal to study biological questions unrelated to their historically contingent adaptations. Therefore, a need has emerged to develop novel model species, better suited for studying particular problems. The paradise fish (Macropodus opercularis) has a much more complex behavioral repertoire than zebrafish and has been a favored model animal in ethological research during the last decades of the previous century. We believe that with currently available, easily adaptable genetic toolkits, this species could be easily developed into a popular model of behavioral genetics. Despite its earlier popularity, however, the description of a detailed housing and husbandry protocol for this species is still missing from scientific literature. We present here a detailed description of how to raise and breed paradise fish successfully under laboratory conditions, and also discuss some of the challenges we faced while creating a stable breeding population for this species in our facility. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Laboratory Animals)
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Article
Reviewing the Review: A Pilot Study of the Ethical Review Process of Animal Research in Sweden
Animals 2021, 11(3), 708; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11030708 - 05 Mar 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2496
Abstract
The use of animals in research entails a range of societal and ethical issues, and there is widespread consensus that animals are to be kept safe from unnecessary suffering. Therefore, harm done to animals in the name of research has to be carefully [...] Read more.
The use of animals in research entails a range of societal and ethical issues, and there is widespread consensus that animals are to be kept safe from unnecessary suffering. Therefore, harm done to animals in the name of research has to be carefully regulated and undergo ethical review for approval. Since 2013, this has been enforced within the European Union through Directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes. However, critics argue that the directive and its implementation by member states do not properly consider all aspects of animal welfare, which risks causing unnecessary animal suffering and decreased public trust in the system. In this pilot study, the ethical review process in Sweden was investigated to determine whether or not the system is in fact flawed, and if so, what may be the underlying cause of this. Through in-depth analysis of 18 applications and decisions of ethical reviews, we found that there are recurring problems within the ethical review process in Sweden. Discrepancies between demands set by legislation and the structure of the application form lead to submitted information being incomplete by design. In turn, this prevents the Animal Ethics Committees from being able to fulfill their task of performing a harm–benefit analysis and ensuring Replacement, Reduction, and Refinement (the 3Rs). Results further showed that a significant number of applications failed to meet legal requirements regarding content. Similarly, no Animal Ethics Committee decision contained any account of evaluation of the 3Rs and a majority failed to include harm–benefit analysis as required by law. Hence, the welfare may be at risk, as well as the fulfilling of the legal requirement of only approving “necessary suffering”. We argue that the results show an unacceptably low level of compliance in the investigated applications with the legal requirement of performing both a harm–benefit analysis and applying the 3Rs within the decision-making process, and that by implication, public insight through transparency is not achieved in these cases. In order to improve the ethical review, the process needs to be restructured, and the legal demands put on both the applicants and the Animal Ethics Committees as such need to be made clear. We further propose a number of improvements, including a revision of the application form. We also encourage future research to further investigate and address issues unearthed by this pilot study. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Laboratory Animals)
Article
Changing Human Behavior to Improve Animal Welfare: A Longitudinal Investigation of Training Laboratory Animal Personnel about Heterospecific Play or “Rat Tickling”
Animals 2020, 10(8), 1435; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10081435 - 17 Aug 2020
Viewed by 2323
Abstract
Despite evidence for rat tickling’s animal welfare benefits, the technique is rarely implemented in part because of a lack of training. This study’s purpose was to determine the efficacy of online-only or online + hands-on training programs on key outcomes for rat tickling [...] Read more.
Despite evidence for rat tickling’s animal welfare benefits, the technique is rarely implemented in part because of a lack of training. This study’s purpose was to determine the efficacy of online-only or online + hands-on training programs on key outcomes for rat tickling in comparison to a waitlist control condition. After completing a baseline survey, laboratory animal personnel currently working with rats in the United States were semi-randomized to receive online-only training (n = 30), online + hands-on training (n = 34), or waitlist control (n = 32). Participants received further surveys directly after training and 2 months later. Data were analyzed using general linear mixed models. At the 2-month follow-up compared to baseline, both training groups reported increased implementation, self-efficacy, knowledge, and familiarity of rat tickling while only the online + hands-on training participants reported increased control beliefs (while the waitlist group stayed the same). At the 2-month follow-up compared to the waitlist, hands-on training participants reported increased self-efficacy and familiarity with rat tickling. Overall, findings show that both online-only and online + hands-on training can improve key outcomes for rat tickling. Although online + hands-on training is slightly more effective, the interactive online-only training has the potential to improve widescale implementation of a welfare-enhancing technique. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Laboratory Animals)
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Article
Influence of Housing Systems on Physical, Emotional, and Cognitive Functions with Aging in DBA/2CrSlc Mice
Animals 2020, 10(4), 746; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10040746 - 24 Apr 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1351
Abstract
Environmental conditions, including enrichment and stress, affect animal behaviors, but limited information is available regarding the differences in animal functions between the chamber (ventilated system) vs. IVC (individually ventilated cages) housing systems. Therefore, the effects of different housing systems were examined on physical, [...] Read more.
Environmental conditions, including enrichment and stress, affect animal behaviors, but limited information is available regarding the differences in animal functions between the chamber (ventilated system) vs. IVC (individually ventilated cages) housing systems. Therefore, the effects of different housing systems were examined on physical, emotional, and cognitive functions and the intestinal flora with aging. DBA/2CrSlc mice were divided into chamber and IVC groups. Differences in the structure of the two cages considered whether the mouse could dangle or not. Physical, emotional, and cognitive functions were examined using the open field, black and white box, object recognition, horizontal bar, wire hanging, balancing, footprint, and locomotor tests. The IVC group demonstrated significantly less food intake, higher body weight (by approximately 5 g), lower rectal core temperature, less muscle and balancing powers with aging, and fewer anxiety-like behaviors than the chamber group. No differences were observed in the cognitive function and intestinal microbiota between the groups. The housing environment affected the rodent basal temperature and body weight as well as the physical and emotional functions. Scientists should be attentive to the type of cages used in the housing system for an experiment, especially when comparing the results with animals reared in different systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Laboratory Animals)
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Review

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Review
Health Monitoring of Laboratory Rodent Colonies—Talking about (R)evolution
Animals 2021, 11(5), 1410; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11051410 - 14 May 2021
Viewed by 825
Abstract
The health monitoring of laboratory rodents is essential for ensuring animal health and standardization in biomedical research. Progress in housing, gnotobiotic derivation, and hygienic monitoring programs led to enormous improvement of the microbiological quality of laboratory animals. While traditional health monitoring and pathogen [...] Read more.
The health monitoring of laboratory rodents is essential for ensuring animal health and standardization in biomedical research. Progress in housing, gnotobiotic derivation, and hygienic monitoring programs led to enormous improvement of the microbiological quality of laboratory animals. While traditional health monitoring and pathogen detection methods still serve as powerful tools for the diagnostics of common animal diseases, molecular methods develop rapidly and not only improve test sensitivities but also allow high throughput analyses of various sample types. Concurrently, to the progress in pathogen detection and elimination, the research community becomes increasingly aware of the striking influence of microbiome compositions in laboratory animals, affecting disease phenotypes and the scientific value of research data. As repeated re-derivation cycles and strict barrier husbandry of laboratory rodents resulted in a limited diversity of the animals’ gut microbiome, future monitoring approaches will have to reform—aiming at enhancing the validity of animal experiments. This review will recapitulate common health monitoring concepts and, moreover, outline strategies and measures on coping with microbiome variation in order to increase reproducibility, replicability and generalizability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Laboratory Animals)
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Correction
Correction: Rydén et al. Physiological and Clinical Responses in Pigs in Relation to Plasma Concentrations during Anesthesia with Dexmedetomidine, Tiletamine, Zolazepam, and Butorphanol. Animals 2021, 11, 1482
Animals 2021, 11(12), 3474; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11123474 - 06 Dec 2021
Viewed by 338
Abstract
Text Correction [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Laboratory Animals)
Erratum
Erratum: Chikako, S.; Yoshihisa, W.; Youichi, T.; Toshitaka, N. Influence of Housing Systems on Physical, Emotional, and Cognitive Functions with Aging in DBA/2CrSlc Mice Animals 2020, 10, 746
Animals 2020, 10(5), 813; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10050813 - 07 May 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 670
Abstract
The authors wish to make the following corrections to their paper [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Laboratory Animals)
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