Handling Techniques to Reduce Stress in Mice
JoVE. 2021-09-25; (175):
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Marcotte M(1), Bernardo A(2), Linga N(3), Pérez-Romero CA(4), Guillou JL(5), Sibille E(6), Prevot TD(7).
(1)Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute of CAMH.
(2)Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute of CAMH; Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto.
(3)Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Toronto.
(4)Departamento de Investigación, Universidad Central de Queretaro.
(5)Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, UMR 5287, Institut de Neurosciences Cognitives et Intégratives d’Aquitaine, Université de Bordeaux.
(6)Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute of CAMH; Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto; Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Toronto.
(7)Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute of CAMH; Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto; .
Laboratory animals are subjected to multiple manipulations by scientists or animal care providers. The stress this causes can have profound effects on animal well-being and can also be a confounding factor for experimental variables such as anxiety measures. Over the years, handling techniques that minimize handling-related stress have been developed with a particular focus on rats, and little attention to mice. However, it has been shown that mice can be habituated to manipulations using handling techniques. Habituating mice to handling reduces
stress, facilitates routine handling, improves animal wellbeing, decreases data variability, and improves experimental reliability. Despite beneficial effects of handling, the tail-pick up approach, which is particularly stressful, is still widely used. This paper provides a detailed description and demonstration of a newly developed mouse-handling technique intended to minimize the stress experienced by the animal during human interaction. This manual technique is performed over 3 days (3D-handling technique) and focuses on the animal’s capacity to habituate to the experimenter. This study also shows the effect of previously established tunnel handling techniques (using a polycarbonate tunnel)
and the tail-pick up technique. Specifically studied are their effects on anxiety-like behaviors, using behavioral tests (Elevated-Plus Maze and Novelty Suppressed Feeding), voluntary interaction with experimenters and physiological measurement (corticosterone levels). The 3D-handling technique and the tunnel handling technique reduced anxiety-like phenotypes. In the first experiment, using 6-month-old male mice, the 3D-handling technique significantly improved experimenter interaction. In the second experiment, using 2.5-month-old female,
it reduced corticosterone levels. As such, the 3D-handling is a useful approach in scenarios where interaction with the experimenter is required or preferred, or where tunnel handling may not be possible during the experiment.