Publications by authors named "Rupert Palme"

213 Publications

Give Them a Toy or Increase Time out of Kennel at Lawn Areas: What Is the Influence of These Interventions on Police Dogs' Welfare?

Animals (Basel) 2021 Jul 30;11(8). Epub 2021 Jul 30.

Departamento de Psicologia Experimental, Instituto de Psicologia, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, SP 05508-030, Brazil.

This work was aimed at identifying the effectiveness of two interventions applied to a group of eight kennelled police dogs. Interventions consisted of access to a lawn area (350 m) and "toy" (a 30 cm jute rag roll, hanging from the kennel ceiling), both available for 15 min a day, for four days in a row. We collected behavioural data and faecal samples for cortisol metabolites evaluation before, during and after interventions. Faecal cortisol metabolites levels were significantly reduced (Friedman, X2(3) = 12.450; = 0.006) during the second round of intervention, regardless of the type of intervention, indicating that the interventions can have a beneficial cumulative effect. Regarding the frequency of stereotyped behaviour, cluster analysis identified two groups of individuals: (1) high-stereotyping individuals (n = 3) that had a tendency to reduce stereotyping behaviours in the lawn intervention when compared to toy intervention (Friedman, X2(3) = 2.530; = 0.068), and (2) low-stereotyping animals (n = 5) that did not present significant behavioural changes during the experiment. The variety of behavioural and endocrine parameters evaluated highlights the need to account for the individual in behaviour and welfare research. Overall, our results suggest that even simple environmental enrichment can be an effective method to mitigate behaviour and physiological signs of stress.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani11082264DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8388378PMC
July 2021

Diagnostic Ability of Methods Depicting Distress of Tumor-Bearing Mice.

Animals (Basel) 2021 Jul 21;11(8). Epub 2021 Jul 21.

Rudolf-Zenker-Institute for Experimental Surgery, University Medical Center Rostock, 18057 Rostock, Germany.

Subcutaneous tumor models in mice are the most commonly used experimental animal models in cancer research. To improve animal welfare and the quality of scientific studies, the distress of experimental animals needs to be minimized. For this purpose, one must assess the diagnostic ability of readout parameters to evaluate distress. In this study, we evaluated different noninvasive readout parameters such as body weight change, adjusted body weight change, faecal corticosterone metabolites concentration, burrowing activity and a distress score by utilising receiver operating characteristic curves. Eighteen immunocompromised NOD.Cg-Prkdcscid Il2rgtm1Wjl/SzJ mice were used for this study; half were subcutaneously injected with A-375 cells (human malignant melanoma cells) that resulted in large tumors. The remaining mice were inoculated with SCL-2 cells (cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma cells), which resulted in small tumors. The adjusted body weight and faecal corticosterone metabolites concentration had a high diagnostic ability in distinguishing between mice before cancer cell injection and mice bearing large tumors. All other readout parameters had a low diagnostic ability. These results suggest that adjusted body weight and faecal corticosterone metabolites are useful to depict the distress of mice bearing large subcutaneous tumors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani11082155DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8388504PMC
July 2021

The impact of variable predation risk on stress in snowshoe hares over the cycle in North America's boreal forest: adjusting to change.

Oecologia 2021 Sep 25;197(1):71-88. Epub 2021 Aug 25.

Department of Biological Sciences, University of Toronto Scarborough, Toronto, ON, Canada.

The boreal forest is one of the world's ecosystems most affected by global climate warming. The snowshoe hare, its predators, and their population dynamics dominate the mammalian component of the North American boreal forest. Our past research has shown the 9-11-year hare cycle to be predator driven, both directly as virtually all hares that die are killed by their predators, and indirectly through sublethal risk effects on hare stress physiology, behavior, and reproduction. We replicated this research over the entire cycle by measuring changes in predation risk expected to drive changes in chronic stress. We examined changes in hare condition and stress axis function using a hormonal challenge protocol in the late winter of 7 years-spanning all phases of the cycle from the increase through to the low (2014-2020). We simultaneously monitored changes in hare abundance as well as those of their primary predators, lynx and coyotes. Despite observing the expected changes in hare-predator numbers over the cycle, we did not see the predicted changes in chronic stress metrics in the peak and decline phases. Thus, the comprehensive physiological signature indicative of chronic predator-induced stress seen from our previous work was not present in this current cycle. We postulate that hares may now be increasingly showing behavior-mediated rather than stress-mediated responses to their predators. We present evidence that increases in primary productivity have affected boreal community structure and function. We speculate that climate change has caused this major shift in the indirect effects of predation on hares.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00442-021-05019-1DOI Listing
September 2021

Assessing the severity of laparotomy and partial hepatectomy in male rats-A multimodal approach.

PLoS One 2021 2;16(8):e0255175. Epub 2021 Aug 2.

Institute for Laboratory Animal Science & Experimental Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany.

This study assessed the postoperative severity after three different visceral surgical interventions in rats by using objective parameters pertaining to various disciplines. The objective was to evaluate whether the degree of severity increases with the invasiveness of the intervention and whether this is in accordance with the EU Directive 2010/63. 136 adult male WistarHan rats were assigned to three groups: Sham-laparotomy (Sham) [7 days post-surgical survival time]; 50% partial hepatectomy (PH); 70% PH [PH groups with 1, 3, or 7 days post-surgical survival times]. Post-surgical severity assessment was performed via several multimodal assessment tools: I) model-specific score sheet focusing on body weight, general condition, spontaneous behavior, and the animals' willingness to move as well as on wound healing; II) Open Field tests evaluating the total distance and velocity an animal moved within 10 minutes and its rearing behavior during the test; III) telemetric data analyzing heart rate and blood pressure; and IV) analysis of blood (AST, ALT, and hemogram) and fecal samples (fecal corticosterone metabolites). Significant differences among the experimental groups and models were observed. We demonstrated that the Open Field test can detect significant changes in severity levels. Sham-laparotomy and removal of 50% of the liver mass were associated with comparable severity (mild-moderate); the severity parameters returned to baseline levels within seven days. Removal of 70% of the liver tissue seemed to be associated with a moderate severity grade and entailed a longer recovery period (>7 days) for complete regeneration. We recommend the use of Open Field tests as part of multimodal objective severity assessment.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0255175PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8328343PMC
August 2021

No evidence of increased fecal glucocorticoid metabolite levels in capercaillie () due to wind turbines.

Ecol Evol 2021 Jul 2;11(13):8487-8494. Epub 2021 May 2.

Institute of Wildlife Biology and Game Management Department of Integrative Biology and Biodiversity Research University of Natural Resources and Life Science Vienna Austria.

Wind energy facilities (WEFs) are a relatively novel impact on wildlife habitats, and an increasing number of studies show negative effects on wildlife. Increased stress-associated hormone levels are an indicator of disturbance effects, and measuring fecal glucocorticoid metabolite (FCM) levels is an established noninvasive method to study disturbance effects on wildlife. We studied whether FCM levels of capercaillie (), a locally threatened forest bird species with proven behavioral responses to WEF, are affected by WEF. Using a before-after-control-impact (BACI) study design at sites in Austria, Germany and Sweden we investigated whether mean FCM levels changed after the construction of WEF and whether there was spatial variation in FCM levels in relation to WEF impacts. By analyzing 553 fecal samples from five wind farms and five control sites, we did not find evidence of increased FCM levels due to WEF when comparing wind farm sites before and after WEF construction with control sites. We further could not detect any spatial variation in FCM levels at wind farms related to turbine effects. There was, however, temporal variation in FCM, with lower FCM levels toward the end of the winter season. Differences among individual study sites emphasize the importance of larger studies with a BACI study design. Facing some methodological limitations, we currently find no evidence for an increase in FCM levels in capercaillie due to WEF.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ece3.7587DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8258217PMC
July 2021

Life experience rather than domestication accounts for dogs' increased oxytocin release during social contact with humans.

Sci Rep 2021 Jul 13;11(1):14423. Epub 2021 Jul 13.

Domestication Lab, Wolf Science Center, Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology, Department of Interdisciplinary Life Sciences, University of Veterinary Medicine, Veterinaerplatz 1, 1210, Vienna, Austria.

Dogs' increased human-directed sociability compared to wolves may be the result of increased oxytocin system activity and decreased stress responses, but comparative studies accounting for life experience are lacking. We compared hand-raised, pack-living wolves' and dogs' behavior and hormone concentrations after interacting with a closely bonded and a familiar human. Both preferred the bonded partner, but dogs showed less variability in human-directed sociability than wolves. Physical contact was not associated with oxytocin but correlated positively with glucocorticoids in the pack-living animals when the human was not bonded. To clarify the role of life experience, we tested pet dogs and found that oxytocin concentrations correlated positively with physical contact with their owners, while glucocorticoids remained unaffected. Results show that, given similar experiences, wolf-dog differences in human-directed sociability and associated hormones are subtle and indicate that factors related to life as a pet dog rather than domestication account for oxytocin release during human-dog interactions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-93922-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8277847PMC
July 2021

Identification of Koala () Faecal Cortisol Metabolites Using Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry and Enzyme Immunoassays.

Metabolites 2021 Jun 16;11(6). Epub 2021 Jun 16.

School of Veterinary Science, The University of Queensland, Gatton, QLD 4343, Australia.

The koala () is an arboreal folivorous marsupial endemic to Australia. Anthropogenic activities and climate change are threats to this species' survival and are potential stressors. A suitable non-invasive method is needed to objectively detect stress in koalas. Under conditions of stress, the concentration of the hormone cortisol in plasma or in saliva is elevated, and this would provide a convenient measure; however, collecting blood or saliva from wild animals is both practically difficult and stressful, and so likely to confound any measurement. In contrast, measurement of cortisol metabolites in faeces provides a practical and non-invasive method to objectively measure stress in koalas. Unfortunately, the identity of the main faecal cortisol metabolites of koalas is unknown. In this study, we have used both untargeted liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) and enzyme immunoassays (EIAs) to identify several faecal cortisol metabolites in two koalas, one female (18 months old, 4.1 kg) and one male (4 years old, 6.95 kg) upon administration of hydrocortisone (cortisol) sodium succinate. The LC-MS analysis identified tetrahydrocortisol along with several other isomers as cortisol metabolites. After a survey of five enzyme immunoassays, we found that two metabolites, tetrahydrocortisol and 3β-allotetrahydrocortisol, could be detected by EIAs that used antibodies that were raised against their structurally similar corticosterone counterparts, tetrahydrocorticosterone and 3β-allotetrahydrocorticosterone, respectively. While the 3β-allotetrahydrocortisol metabolite was detected in the faeces of only one of the two animals studied, tetrahydrocortisol was detected in both. These results ultimately indicate that tetrahydrocortisol is likely the main faecal cortisol metabolite in koalas, and we demonstrate that it can be measured by an EIA (50c) that was originally developed to measure tetrahydrocorticosterone.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/metabo11060393DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8234238PMC
June 2021

Seasonal Variations of Faecal Cortisol Metabolites in Koalas in South East Queensland.

Animals (Basel) 2021 May 31;11(6). Epub 2021 May 31.

School of Veterinary Science, The University of Queensland, Gatton, QLD 4343, Australia.

The Koala () is an endemic marsupial inhabiting four states of Australia. Urbanisation, declining habitat, drought and fires are threatening the survival of this flagship species. These threats may cause acute and chronic stress in koalas, which might also be associated with occurrence of infectious diseases in koala populations. Stress may induce an increase in cortisol reflected in increased faecal cortisol metabolite (FCM) values. To be able to use faecal cortisol metabolites to measure stress levels in this species, our aim was to determine baseline values for males and females during breeding and non-breeding season. A total of 351 defecations were collected fortnightly, twice a day, for 12 months from koalas at a wildlife facility in South East Queensland. Samples were analysed with three different enzyme immunoassays (EIAs): a cortisol, 5α-pregnane-3β,11β,21-triol-20-one (37e) and tetrahydrocorticosterone (50c) EIA. The latter, which also reacts with tetrahydrocortisol, the main metabolite in koala faeces, was found to have the highest biological sensitivity and, therefore, is the most suitable EIA to measure stress levels in koalas. Utilising this EIA, we found significant differences ( < 0.05) in FCM values between males and females, breeding and non-breeding season, and between morning and evening samples. Values of faecal cortisol metabolites established in stress-free koalas in this study can serve as a reference for future studies in koalas.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani11061622DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8227722PMC
May 2021

Evaluation of Potential Sustainable Bedding Substrates Focusing on Preference, Behavior, and Stress Physiology in Rats-A Pilot Study.

Animals (Basel) 2021 May 12;11(5). Epub 2021 May 12.

Interfaculty Biomedical Research Facility (IBF), University Heidelberg, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany.

Ensuring optimal housing conditions for laboratory animals is a crucial prerequisite for high-quality and ethically justifiable in vivo science. In addition to guaranteeing animal welfare and promoting scientific validity, environmental sustainability is also increasingly gaining attention in laboratory animal facilities. Consequently, comprehensive management of such aspects is one of the core tasks of any research vivarium. Hygienic monitoring and adhering to standardized experimental protocols have been highlighted in the past; nevertheless, various environmental aspects of housing animals still need to be evaluated in greater depth. In this pilot study, we aimed at assessing the suitability of spelt and corncob as economical and ecologically friendly bedding substrates as compared with commonly used aspen wood chips. Therefore, following a descriptive study design, we examined the preferences of male and female Wistar rats for corncob and spelt under specific conditions. In addition, we evaluated potential effects on behavior, metabolism, and stress physiology. The type of bedding did not seem to influence behavior in the observed parameters but did have time- and sex-dependent effects on blood glucose. Furthermore, housing animals on spelt led to a significant reduction in food consumption, probably compensated for by the intake of spelt, and although it did not influence glucose levels, it may have certainly impacted the nutrient supply. Our descriptive pilot study, therefore, highlights the importance of a thorough condition-associated evaluation of even seemingly marginal environmental factors, when balancing potential cost-benefit advances in sustainability and questions of standardization and reproducibility of experimental protocols.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani11051375DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8151165PMC
May 2021

Lidocaine and bupivacaine as part of multimodal pain management in a C57BL/6J laparotomy mouse model.

Sci Rep 2021 May 25;11(1):10918. Epub 2021 May 25.

Centre for Surgical Research, University Hospital Zurich, University of Zurich, Sternwartstrasse 6, 8091, Zurich, Switzerland.

While the use of local anesthesia as part of multimodal pain management is common practice in human and veterinarian surgery, these drugs are not applied routinely in rodent surgery. Several recommendations on the use of local anesthesia exist, but systematic studies on their efficacy and side effects are lacking. In the present study, male and female C57BL/6J mice were subjected to a sham vasectomy or a sham embryo transfer, respectively. We tested whether a mixture of subcutaneously injected Lidocaine and Bupivacaine in combination with systemic Paracetamol applied via drinking water results in superior pain relief when compared to treatment with local anesthesia or Paracetamol alone. We applied a combination of methods to assess behavioral, emotional, and physiological changes indicative of pain. Voluntary Paracetamol intake via drinking water reached the target dosage of 200 mg/kg in most animals. Local anesthesia did not lead to obvious side effects such as irregular wound healing or systemic disorders. No relevant sex differences were detected in our study. Sevoflurane anesthesia and surgery affected physiological and behavioral measurements. Surprisingly, Paracetamol treatment alone significantly increased the Mouse Grimace Scale. Taken together, mice treated with a combination of local anesthesia and systemic analgesia did not show fewer signs of post-surgical pain or improved recovery compared to animals treated with either local anesthesia or Paracetamol.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-90331-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8149411PMC
May 2021

The Effect of Long Term Captivity on Stress Levels in Lizards.

J Appl Anim Welf Sci 2021 Jul-Sep;24(3):321-330. Epub 2021 Apr 28.

Department of Biology, University of Antwerp Antwerp, Belgium.

The effect of long term captivity is a factor that is important for all research utilizing wild caught animals. Despite the fact that it can be considered to be one of the most fundamental potential sources of stress in captivity, it has received a low amount of interest in recent research on lizards. Given the wide variety in ecology and life history among lizards species, it would make sense to investigate the effect of long term captivity on wild caught lizards on a broader scale. In this study we investigated the effect of long term captivity (four months) on the physiology and behavior of male and female lizards. Our results showed no negative effects of four months of captivity on physiological and behavioral measurements in male lizards. Similar results for females were found for all measurements except body mass and tail width. Here our results indicated a potential negative effect of four months of captivity on body mass and tail width in females.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10888705.2021.1916937DOI Listing
April 2021

Additional Assessment of Fecal Corticosterone Metabolites Improves Visual Rating in the Evaluation of Stress Responses of Laboratory Rats.

Animals (Basel) 2021 Mar 5;11(3). Epub 2021 Mar 5.

Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine (INM-2), Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, 52425 Jülich, Germany.

Since animal experiments cannot be completely avoided, the pain, suffering, and distress of laboratory animals must be minimized. To this end, a major prerequisite is reliable assessment of pain and distress. Usually, evaluation of animal welfare is done by visual inspection and score sheets. However, relatively little is known about whether standardized, but subjective, score sheets are able to reliably reflect the status of the animals. The current study aimed to compare visual assessment scores and changes in body weight with concentrations of fecal corticosterone metabolites (FCMs) in a neuroscientific experimental setup. Additionally, effects of refinement procedures were investigated. Eight male adult Sprague-Dawley rats underwent several experimental interventions, including electroencephalograph electrode implantation and subsequent recording, positron emission tomography (PET), and sleep deprivation (SD) by motorized activity wheels. Additional 16 rats were either used as controls without any treatment or to evaluate refinement strategies. Stress responses were determined on a daily basis by means of measuring FCMs, body weight, and evaluation of the animals' welfare by standardized score sheets. Surgery provoked a significant elevation of FCM levels for up to five days. Increases in FCMs due to PET procedures or SD in activity wheels were also highly significant, while visual assessment scores did not indicate elevated stress levels and body weights remained constant. Visual assessment scores correlate with neither changes in body weight nor increases in FCM levels. Habituation procedures to activity wheels used for SD had no impact on corticosterone release. Our results revealed that actual score sheets for visual assessment of animal welfare did not mirror physiological stress responses assessed by FCM measurements. Moreover, small changes in body weight did not correlate with FCM concentration either. In conclusion, as visual assessment is a method allowing immediate interventions on suffering animals to alleviate burden, timely stress assessment in experimental rodents via score sheets should be ideally complemented by validated objective measures (e.g., fecal FCM measured by well-established assays for reliable detection of FCMs). This will complete a comprehensive appraisal of the animals' welfare status in a retrospective manner and refine stressor procedures in the long run.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani11030710DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8001186PMC
March 2021

Salivary cortisol as a non-invasive approach to assess stress in dystocic dairy calves.

Sci Rep 2021 03 18;11(1):6200. Epub 2021 Mar 18.

Department of Obstetrics and Food Animal Medicine Clinic, University of Veterinary Medicine, István utca 2, Budapest, 1078, Hungary.

The intensity and the magnitude of saliva cortisol responses were investigated during the first 48 h following birth in newborn dairy calves which underwent normal (eutocic, EUT, n = 88) and difficult (dystocic, DYS, n = 70) calvings. The effects of parity and body condition of the dam, the duration of parturition, the time spent licking the calf, the sex and birth weight of the calf were also analyzed. Neonatal salivary cortisol concentrations were influenced neither by factors related to the dam (parity, body condition) nor the calf (sex, birth weight). The duration of parturition and the time spent licking the calf also had no effect on salivary cortisol levels. Salivary cortisol concentrations increased rapidly after delivery in both groups to reach their peak levels at 45 and 60 min after delivery in EUT and DYS calves, respectively supporting that the birth process means considerable stress for calves and the immediate postnatal period also appears to be stressful for newborn calves. DYS calves exhibited higher salivary cortisol concentrations compared to EUT ones for 0 (P = 0.022), 15 (P = 0.016), 30 (P = 0.007), 45 (P = 0.003), 60 (P = 0.001) and 120 min (P = 0.001), and for 24 h (P = 0.040), respectively. Peak levels of salivary cortisol and the cortisol release into saliva calculated as AUC were higher in DYS than in EUT calves for the 48-h of the sampling period (P = 0.009 and P = 0.003, respectively). The greater magnitude of saliva cortisol levels in DYS calves compared to EUT ones suggest that difficult parturition means severe stress for bovine neonates and salivary cortisol could be an opportunity for non-invasive assessment of stress during the early neonatal period in cattle.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-85666-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7973751PMC
March 2021

Effects of ectoparasite infestation during pregnancy on physiological stress and reproductive output in a rodent-flea system.

Int J Parasitol 2021 Jul 11;51(8):659-666. Epub 2021 Mar 11.

Mitrani Department of Desert Ecology, Swiss Institute for Dryland Environmental and Energy Research, Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Sede Boqer Campus, 8499000 Midreshet Ben Gurion, Israel.

Biotic and abiotic stressors impose various fitness costs on individuals across a variety of taxa. In vertebrates, these stressors typically trigger complex neuroendocrine responses that stimulate glucocorticoid (GC) secretion from the adrenal cortex. Short-term elevation of GCs can be adaptive as it shifts energy toward physiological processes that cope with acute stressors; however, chronic increases in GC levels could have detrimental effects on fitness. Parasitism can be considered an important biotic stressor in nature and a possible cause of reproductive failure that could substantially affect an individual's fitness. Thus, we aimed to test the effects of parasitism and maternal stress, as measured by GCs, during pregnancy and the relationship between these variables and measures of reproductive output using a rodent-flea system. Female Egyptian spiny mice (Acomys cahirinus) were randomly assigned to flea (Parapulex chephrenis) infested or uninfested treatments before and during pregnancy. The offspring of these females were flea-free. Feces were collected at five time points during the experiment to determine maternal fecal glucocorticoid metabolite (FGCM) concentrations. Overall, infested females had lower FGCM levels during gestation but higher FGCM levels post-parturition and larger mass changes than uninfested females. Additionally, models related to pup quality and quantity often included some measure of maternal investment or body condition moderating relationships between infestation and stress. This suggests that flea parasitism or high GC levels alone might not significantly impact host reproduction but rather females can experience different effects depending on their level of investment, which could be limited by body condition and/or the number of pups present in a litter.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpara.2020.12.005DOI Listing
July 2021

A mechanism for population self-regulation: Social density suppresses GnRH expression and reduces reproductivity in voles.

J Anim Ecol 2021 04 21;90(4):784-795. Epub 2021 Feb 21.

Department of Biological Sciences, University of Toronto Scarborough, Toronto, Canada.

Nearly 100 years ago, Charles Elton described lemming and vole population cycles as ecological models for understanding population regulation in nature. Yet, the mechanisms driving these cycles are still not fully understood. These rodent populations can continue to cycle in the absence of predation and with food supplementation, and represent a major unsolved problem in population ecology. It has been hypothesized that the social environment at high population density can drive selection for a low-reproduction phenotype, resulting in population self-regulation as an intrinsic mechanism driving the cycles. However, a physiological mechanism for this self-regulation has not been demonstrated. We manipulated population density in wild meadow voles Microtus pennsylvanicus using large-scale field enclosures over 3 years and examined reproductive performance and physiology. Within the field enclosures, we assessed the proportion of breeding animals, mass at sexual maturation, and faecal androgen and oestrogen metabolites. We then collected brain tissue from juvenile voles born at high or low density, quantified mRNA expression of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) and oestrogen receptor alpha (ERα) and measured DNA methylation at six CpG sites in a region that was highly conserved with the mouse GnRH promoter. At high density, there was a lower proportion of reproductive animals. Juvenile voles born at high densities had reduced expression of GnRH in the hypothalamus, accompanied by marginally lower faecal sex hormone metabolites. Female juvenile voles born at high density also had higher methylation levels at two CpG sites while males did not, aligning with prior observations that females (but not males) from high-density environments retain reduced reproduction long term. Our results support a physiological basis for population self-regulation in vole cycles, as altering population density alone induced reproductive downregulation at the hypothalamic level. Our results demonstrate that altering the early-life social environment can fundamentally impact reproductive function in the brain. This, in turn, can drive population demography changes in wild animals.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1365-2656.13430DOI Listing
April 2021

Toward evidence-based severity assessment in mouse models with repeated seizures: I. Electrical kindling.

Epilepsy Behav 2021 02 5;115:107689. Epub 2021 Jan 5.

Institute of Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Pharmacy, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Munich, Germany. Electronic address:

Objective: Ethical decisions about an allowance for animal experiments need to be based on scientifically sound information about the burden and distress associated with the experimental procedure and models. Thereby, species differences need to be considered for recommendations regarding evidence-based severity assessment and refinement measures.

Methods: A comprehensive analysis of behavioral patterns and corticosterone or its metabolites in serum and feces was completed in kindled mice. The impact of kindling via two different stimulation sites in the amygdala and hippocampus was determined. Data were compared to those from naive and electrode-implanted groups.

Results: Amygdala and hippocampus kindled mice exhibited comparable behavioral patterns with increased activity in the open field, reduced anxiety-associated behavior in the elevated-plus maze, and increased anhedonia-associated behavior in the saccharin preference test. In addition, repeated stimulation of the hippocampus caused a reduction in burrowing behavior and an increase in active social interaction. Levels of corticosterone and its metabolites were not altered in serum or feces, respectively. A comparison of mouse data with findings from amygdala kindled rats confirmed pronounced species differences in behavioral patterns associated with the kindling process.

Significance: Taken together the findings suggest a severity classification for the mouse kindling paradigms as moderate regardless of the stimulation site. The outcome of the species comparison provides valuable guidance for species selection for studies exploring behavioral comorbidities. In this context, it is emphasized that the mouse kindling paradigms seem to be well suited for studies exploring the link between ictal events and network alterations on the one hand, and hyperactivity and anhedonia-associated behavior on the other hand. Moreover, the underlying pathophysiological mechanisms and the impact of therapeutic interventions on these behavioral alterations can be studied in these paradigms providing guidance for the clinical management of respective psychiatric comorbidities in patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.yebeh.2020.107689DOI Listing
February 2021

Relationship between exploratory activity and adrenocortical activity in the black rat (Rattus rattus).

J Exp Zool A Ecol Integr Physiol 2021 02 7;335(2):286-295. Epub 2021 Jan 7.

Department of Zoology, Faculty of Science, Charles University, Prague, Czechia.

The relationship between physiological and behavioral stress markers is documented in several rodent species. However, there is no information regarding the role of adrenocortical activity in behavior of the black rat (Rattus rattus). Therefore, we hypothesize that the adrenocortical activity of black rats varies between individuals and is related to some of the behaviors in a novel environment. To test this hypothesis, we (i) validated a method for quantifying glucocorticoid metabolites from feces (fGCMs) with an enzyme immunoassay (EIA); (ii) examined variation and diurnal rhythms of feces and GCM production; and (iii) examined the relationship between GCM levels and exploratory behavioral traits. We fulfilled the first aim (i) by successfully performing an ACTH challenge test to validate the use of a 5α-pregnane-3β,11β,21-triol-20-one EIA for measuring fGCMs. Second (ii) we detected considerable consistent interindividual variability in production of both feces and glucocorticoids. The peak production of feces occurred in the first hour of the dark cycle, the peak of fGCMs occurred approximately 3 h later. Lastly, (iii) there was no clear relationship between behavior in the hole board test and GCMs. Grooming, a typical behavioral stress marker, was negatively associated with stress reactivity, while head-dipping in the hole-board test (traditionally considered an exploratory behavior independent of stress) was not correlated with the GCMs. This study offers a first look at GCMs in the black rat, successfully validates a method for their measurement and opens possibilities for future research of the relationship between glucocorticoids and exploratory behavior in this species.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jez.2440DOI Listing
February 2021

Regular touchscreen training affects faecal corticosterone metabolites and anxiety-like behaviour in mice.

Behav Brain Res 2021 03 26;401:113080. Epub 2020 Dec 26.

Department of Behavioural Biology, University of Münster, Germany; Otto Creutzfeldt Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience, University of Münster, Germany.

Automated touchscreen techniques find increasing application for the assessment of cognitive function in rodents. However, hardly anything is known about the potential impact of touchscreen-based training and testing procedures on the animals under investigation. Addressing this question appears particularly important in light of the long and intensive training phases required for most of the operant tasks. Against this background, we here investigated the influence of regular touchscreen training on hormones and behaviour of mice. Faecal corticosterone metabolites (FCMs), reflecting corticosterone levels around the time of treatment, were significantly increased in touchscreen-trained mice, even one week after the training phase was already terminated. Such an effect was not detected on baseline FCMs. Thus, regular touchscreen training can be assumed to cause long-term effects on hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis activity. Furthermore, anxiety-like behaviour was increased in touchscreen-trained mice two weeks after the end of the training phase. Traditionally, this would be interpreted as a negative influence of the training procedure on the animals' affective state. Yet, we also provide two alternative explanations, taking the possibility into account that touchscreen training might have enriching properties.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbr.2020.113080DOI Listing
March 2021

Complex relationships between physiological stress and endoparasite infections in natural populations.

Curr Zool 2020 Oct 16;66(5):449-457. Epub 2020 Jun 16.

Department of Veterinary Medicine, Università degli Studi di Milano, Via Celoria 10, Milano, 2133, Italy.

Short-term elevation of glucocorticoids (GCs) is one of the major physiological mechanisms by which vertebrates cope with challenging environmental or social factors (stressors). However, when exposure to stressors occurs repeatedly or over a prolonged period of time, animals may experience chronic elevation of GCs, which reduces the immune response efficiency and can lead to higher intensity of parasitic infection. Here, we used invasive gray squirrels introduced in Northern Italy and their 2 most prevalent gastrointestinal parasites, the nematode and coccidia of the genus , as a model to investigate relationships among macroparasite infection and concentrations of fecal glucocorticoid metabolites (FGMs), an integrated measure of circulating GCs. Our results revealed an association of FGMs with infection by , but not with coccidia. Individuals with higher FGMs appear to be responsible for the greatest egg shedding within gray squirrel populations, thus possibly acting as superspreaders. However, FGMs were negatively associated with adult , suggesting that the abundance of adults of this nematode species does not induce elevation in FGMs, but is only affected by it through immune-mediated effects on its fecundity. Finally, the relationship between (both eggs and adult parasites) and FGMs was not linear, suggesting that only high levels of physiological stress influence parasite infection. Our findings highlight that the direction and magnitude of the stress-infection relationship may depend not only on the specific host-parasite system, but also on the different life stages of the same parasite.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cz/zoaa029DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7705514PMC
October 2020

Analysis of Animal Well-Being When Supplementing Drinking Water with Tramadol or Metamizole during Chronic Pancreatitis.

Animals (Basel) 2020 Dec 5;10(12). Epub 2020 Dec 5.

Rudolf-Zenker-Institute of Experimental Surgery, Rostock University Medical Center, 18057 Rostock, Germany.

Pain management during in vivo experiments is an animal welfare concern and is in many countries also legally required. In this study, we evaluated C57Bl/6J mice when 3 g/L metamizole or 1 g/L tramadol was provided via drinking water, before and during cerulein-induced chronic pancreatitis. Supplementation of drinking water with metamizole or tramadol did not significantly reduce the amount of consumed water. In order to evaluate the wellbeing of mice, a distress score, burrowing activity, nesting behavior, and body weight was assessed. Before induction of pancreatitis, neither tramadol nor metamizole influenced these readout parameters. Chronic pancreatitis caused a significantly increased distress score, decreased burrowing activity and a reduction in body weight. Mice drinking tramadol-supplemented water experienced less loss in body weight and consumed more water than mice drinking metamizole, at a few time-points during chronic pancreatitis. Pancreatic atrophy, a characteristic feature of chronic pancreatitis was not differentially influenced by either analgesic. In conclusion, both analgesics can be used during 33 days of chronic pancreatitis, but tramadol seems to be moderately advantageous when compared to metamizole.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani10122306DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7762076PMC
December 2020

Cats at the Vet: The Effect of Alpha-s1 Casozepin.

Animals (Basel) 2020 Nov 5;10(11). Epub 2020 Nov 5.

Department of Biomedical Sciences, Unit of Physiology, Pathophysiology and Experimental Endocrinology, University of Veterinary Medicine, Veterinärplatz 1, 2210 Vienna, Austria.

The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of α-s1 casozepin on cat stress responses at a veterinary practice. Cats feel confident in their familiar surroundings and daily routine. A visit, and transport, to the veterinarian is a stressful experience for cats and their owners. Stress can mask clinical signs and has physiological impacts. Alpha-s1 casozepin (Zylkène; Vétoquinol) could potentially minimize stress in cats with its calming and anxiolytic characteristics. A randomized, partial double-blind and placebo-controlled study was carried out with 60 adult cats. The trial was designed for three groups: low dose (15 mg/kg q24 h α-s1 casozepin for six days), high dose (75 mg/kg q24 h α-s1 casozepin for three days), and a placebo (one fructose capsule per day for three days). For the study, cats had a checkup at their trusted veterinarian without the dietary supplement, followed by a second one four weeks later. Alpha-s1 casozepin or a placebo was administered three to six days before the checkup. Fecal cortisol metabolites (FCMs) were measured to non-invasively evaluate the impact of α-s1 casozepin on adrenocortical activity. The cat owners and veterinarians also assessed the physiological reactions (respiratory rate, sweaty paws, pupils, panting, and vocalization) of the cats at home, in the waiting area, and in the examination room. The only significant effect (kappa coefficient κ = 0.007 and κ = 0.003) found in this study was the absence of sweaty paws in cats who were treated with the high dose of α-s1 casozepin over three days, observed in the waiting area and examination room of the veterinarian's practice, respectively. Alpha-s1 casozepin also showed a small but insignificant reduction in FCM levels. Alpha-s1 casozepin influences the autonomic nervous system, and can inhibit sweaty paws during stressful situations for cats.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani10112047DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7694447PMC
November 2020

Short-term telomere dynamics is associated with glucocorticoid levels in wild populations of roe deer.

Comp Biochem Physiol A Mol Integr Physiol 2021 02 2;252:110836. Epub 2020 Nov 2.

Université de Lyon, Université Lyon 1, CNRS, Laboratoire de Biométrie et Biologie Evolutive UMR5558, F-69622 Villeurbanne, France; Université de Lyon, VetAgro Sup, Marcy-l'Etoile, France.

While evidence that telomere length is associated with health and mortality in humans and birds is accumulating, a large body of research is currently seeking to identify factors that modulate telomere dynamics. We tested the hypothesis that high levels of glucocorticoids in individuals under environmental stress should accelerate telomere shortening in two wild populations of roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) living in different ecological contexts. From two consecutive annual sampling sessions, we found that individuals with faster rates of telomere shortening had higher concentrations of fecal glucocorticoid metabolites, suggesting a functional link between glucocorticoid levels and telomere attrition rate. This relationship was consistent for both sexes and populations. This finding paves the way for further studies of the fitness consequences of exposure to environmental stressors in wild vertebrates.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cbpa.2020.110836DOI Listing
February 2021

Not all mice are alike: Mixed-strain housing alters social behaviour.

Physiol Behav 2021 01 26;228:113220. Epub 2020 Oct 26.

Department of Behavioural Biology, University of Münster, Münster, Germany; Otto Creutzfeldt Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience, University of Münster, Münster, Germany. Electronic address:

The use of millions of mice in scientific studies worldwide emphasises the continuing need for a reduction of sample sizes, however, not at the expense of scientific validity. Split-plot designs have been suggested to enhance statistical power while allowing a reduction of animal numbers in comparison to traditional experimental designs. Recently, a promising approach of a split-plot design has been implemented and proven useful using mixed-strain housing of at least three different mouse strains. However, the impact of co-housing different strains of mice in one cage on animal welfare has still to be defined. This study aimed at comparing the effects of mixed-strain and same-strain housing of female C57BL/6J and DBA/2N mice on welfare and behaviour in two experimental phases. In a first phase, mice were housed in either mixed- or same-strain pairs. Home cage behaviour, activity rhythm, body weight, and faecal corticosterone metabolites were assessed. Furthermore, tests for anxiety-like and exploratory behaviour as well as spatial learning were performed. In a second phase, sociability was investigated in newly formed mixed-strain quartets. Mixed-strain housing did not induce alterations in anxiety, locomotion, learning, stereotypic behaviour, and stress hormone levels. However, changes in social behaviours and activity rhythm were observed. Increased agonistic and decreased socio-positive behaviours might point towards mild impacts on welfare in C57BL/6J mice under co-housing conditions. Altogether, scientific research may greatly benefit from co-housing mice of different strains within the same cages (e.g. for the realisation of a split-plot design), provided that strains are carefully selected for compatibility.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2020.113220DOI Listing
January 2021

[Cortisol concentration before, during and after sham foot trimming in German Holstein cows - the suitability of different matrices].

Tierarztl Prax Ausg G Grosstiere Nutztiere 2020 Oct 20;48(5):291-300. Epub 2020 Oct 20.

Klinik für Klauentiere, Veterinärmedizinische Fakultät der Universität Leipzig.

Objective: The objective of this study was to determine whether changes in cortisol concentration measured in blood serum (KoB) of cows exposed to an acute stressor shows a correlation to cortisol concentrations in saliva (KoS), tears (KoT) and milk (KoM) as well as the concentration of cortisol metabolites in feces (KoK).

Materials And Methods: In 10 healthy German Holstein cows, sham foot trimming (sKB) including the movement/fixation of the cows through/in a foot trimming chute was used as a model for acute stress. KoB, KoS, KoT, KoM and KoK were measured once a day for 10 days. During sKB, performed on day 4, KoB and KoT were measured at the initiation of foot trimming (minute 0) as well as 15, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60 and 80 minutes later. Additionally, KoK was measured 480, 540, 600 and 660 minutes after the start of sKB.

Results: KoB and KoT increased during sKB and reached a maximum at 60 minutes followed by a decrease. KoK increased after sKB and reached a maximum at 660 minutes. There was a significant correlation between KoB and KoT, KoK and KoB and a trend towards a significant correlation between KoK and KoT during sKB. KoB and KoT were significantly correlated (area under the curve, minute 0-10, p = 0.04). KoB decreased significantly from day 1 to day 4 (p < 0.01). On day, 5 KoB (p = 0.03) and KoK (p < 0.01) were significantly higher. KoS and KoT served as good proxies for KoB throughout the study, and KoK and KoB exhibited similar profiles. There were several differences between the profiles of KoM and KoB. During the 10-day measurement period, a significant positive correlation was detected between KoB and KoS (p = 0.002) as well as between KoB and KoT (p = 0.002).

Conclusions And Clinical Relevance: The collection of tear fluid and saliva for determination of cortisol concentrations are non-invasive alternatives to blood sampling. Calm handling of cows may reduce their stress reaction and thus improve animal welfare.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1055/a-1261-6583DOI Listing
October 2020

Virtual and real-life ostracism and its impact on a subsequent acute stressor.

Physiol Behav 2021 01 12;228:113205. Epub 2020 Oct 12.

Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, Faculty of Psychology, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria; Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria. Electronic address:

While ostracism constitutes a social stressor with negative effects on physical and mental health, social inclusion seems to increase resilience. This may be true not only for face-to-face settings, but also for computer-mediated interactions. Hence, this study examined the differences between ostracism and social inclusion in real-life or Virtual Reality (VR) regarding self-reported stress, neuroendocrine and cardiovascular reactivity in a subsequent real-life socio-evaluative task. 84 females were randomly assigned to a 3 (agency: face-to-face/human controlled VR-avatar/computer VR-agent) x 2 (inclusion status: inclusion/exclusion) between-subject design using a Cyberball paradigm. Subsequently, they were exposed to a real-life Trier Social Stress Test (TSST). Results indicate that the experience of ostracism constitutes a threat to fundamental social needs independent of agency. Excluded participants showed cardiovascular reactivity during TSST; also face-to-face and avatar excluded individuals had elevated salivary cortisol levels. Included participants reported more perceived social support during Cyberball and showed a blunted cortisol response to the TSST. These results suggest that face-to-face and avatar-related ostracism provokes responses in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). Furthermore, they reveal that social inclusion may act as a stress-protector as it alters HPA- and SNS-related stress responsiveness to subsequent stressors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2020.113205DOI Listing
January 2021

The impact of handling technique and handling frequency on laboratory mouse welfare is sex-specific.

Sci Rep 2020 10 14;10(1):17281. Epub 2020 Oct 14.

RG Animal Models in Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Central Institute of Mental Health, Medical Faculty Mannheim, Heidelberg University, Mannheim, Germany.

Handling is a well-known source of stress to laboratory animals and can affect variability of results and even compromise animal welfare. The conventional tail handling in mice has been shown to induce aversion and anxiety-like behaviour. Recent findings demonstrate that the use of alternative handling techniques, e.g. tunnel handling, can mitigate negative handling-induced effects. Here, we show that technique and frequency of handling influence affective behaviour and stress hormone release of subjects in a sex-dependent manner. While frequent tail handling led to a reduction of wellbeing-associated burrowing and increased despair-like behaviour in male mice, females seemed unaffected. Instead, they displayed a stress response to a low handling frequency, which was not detectable in males. This could suggest that in terms of refinement, the impact in handling could differ between the sexes. Independently from this observation, both sexes preferred to interact with the tunnel. Mice generally explored the tunnel more often than the tail-handling hands of the experimenter and showed more positively rated approaches, e.g. touching or climbing, and at the same time, less defensive burrowing, indicating a strong preference for the tunnel.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-74279-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7560820PMC
October 2020

MicroRNAs as systemic biomarkers to assess distress in animal models for gastrointestinal diseases.

Sci Rep 2020 10 9;10(1):16931. Epub 2020 Oct 9.

Rudolf-Zenker-Institute of Experimental Surgery, University Medical Center Rostock, Schillingallee 69a, 18057, Rostock, Germany.

Severity assessment of animal experiments is mainly conducted by using subjective parameters. A widely applicable biomarker to assess animal distress could contribute to an objective severity assessment in different animal models. Here, the distress of three murine animal models for gastrointestinal diseases was assessed by multiple behavioral and physiological parameters. To identify possible new biomarkers for distress 750 highly conserved microRNAs were measured in the blood plasma of mice before and after the induction of pancreatitis. Deregulated miRNA candidates were identified and further quantified in additional animal models for pancreatic cancer and cholestasis. MiR-375 and miR-203 were upregulated during pancreatitis and down regulated during cholestasis, whereas miR-132 was upregulated in all models. Correlation between miR-132 and plasma corticosterone concentrations resulted in the highest correlation coefficient, when compared to the analysis of miR-375, miR-203 and miR-30b. These results indicate that miR-132 might function as a general biomarker for distress, whereas the other miRNAs were altered in a disease specific manner. In conclusion, plasma miRNA profiling may help to better characterize the level of distress in mouse models for gastrointestinal diseases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-73972-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7547723PMC
October 2020

Improving reproducibility in animal research by splitting the study population into several 'mini-experiments'.

Sci Rep 2020 10 6;10(1):16579. Epub 2020 Oct 6.

Department of Behavioural Biology, University of Münster, Badestraße 13, Münster, Germany.

In light of the hotly discussed 'reproducibility crisis', a rethinking of current methodologies appears essential. Implementing multi-laboratory designs has been shown to enhance the external validity and hence the reproducibility of findings from animal research. We here aimed at proposing a new experimental strategy that transfers this logic into a single-laboratory setting. We systematically introduced heterogeneity into our study population by splitting an experiment into several 'mini-experiments' spread over different time points a few weeks apart. We hypothesised to observe improved reproducibility in such a 'mini-experiment' design in comparison to a conventionally standardised design, according to which all animals are tested at one specific point in time. By comparing both designs across independent replicates, we could indeed show that the use of such a 'mini-experiment' design improved the reproducibility and accurate detection of exemplary treatment effects (behavioural and physiological differences between four mouse strains) in about half of all investigated strain comparisons. Thus, we successfully implemented and empirically validated an easy-to-handle strategy to tackle poor reproducibility in single-laboratory studies. Since other experiments within different life science disciplines share the main characteristics with the investigation reported here, these studies are likely to also benefit from this approach.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-73503-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7538440PMC
October 2020

Fecal Cortisol Metabolites in Dairy Cows: A Cross-Sectional Exploration of Associations with Animal, Stockperson, and Farm Characteristics.

Animals (Basel) 2020 Oct 1;10(10). Epub 2020 Oct 1.

Farm Animal Behaviour and Husbandry Section, University of Kassel, Nordbahnhofstr. 1a, 37213 Witzenhausen, Germany.

To date, little is known about influences on cows' physiological stress levels on farms. The present study explored associations of fecal cortisol metabolite concentrations (FCM) with (1) farm factors including human-animal contact, (2) cows' fear behaviors towards humans, and (3) milk production and udder health, involving 25 dairy farms and repeated fecal samples ( = 2625) from 674 focal cows. Farm factors via interviews and observations, avoidance distance (AD) and qualitative behavior assessment (QBA) during a human-animal interaction were recorded. Milk yield and somatic cell scores (SCS) were calculated from milk recordings. Levels of FCMs were in general relatively low. No associations with AD and milk yield could be detected. Correlations between FCMs and QBA and SCS were significant, but on a low level. Against expectations, FCMs were higher, when the farm provided concentrates by hand and habituated heifers to milking, in part possibly due to reversed cause-effect relations. Decreased FCM levels were found on farms that did not separate diseased cows, possibly due to the avoidance of social stress following changes in group structure. Additionally, straw yards compared to raised cubicles and generous compared to suboptimal lying space were associated with decreased levels, underlining the importance of comfort around resting. Moreover, FCMs were decreased with increased human contact time per cow. The different associations detected in this study provide a basis for further experimental investigations that moreover might provide insights into causal relationships.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani10101787DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7600853PMC
October 2020

The impact of varying food availability on health and welfare in mice: Testing the Match-Mismatch hypothesis.

Physiol Behav 2021 01 2;228:113193. Epub 2020 Oct 2.

Department of Behavioral Biology, University of Münster, Badestr. 13, 48149 Münster, Germany; DFG RTG EvoPAD, University of Münster, Hüfferstr. 1a, 48149 Münster, Germany. Electronic address:

During early phases of life, an organism's phenotype can be shaped by the environmental conditions which it experiences. If the conditions change subsequently, the mismatch between the environment in early and later life could have negative effects on the individual's health and welfare. The aim of this study was to systematically test the predictions of this Match-Mismatch hypothesis in laboratory mice. Therefore, female C57BL/6 J mice were exposed to matching or mismatching combinations of low and high food availability in adolescence and early adulthood. A comprehensive analysis of various physiological and behavioral parameters was conducted. No indication of a mismatch effect was found, which might be attributed to the specific ecology of mice. Alternatively, food availability might cause a shaping of the phenotype only during the prenatal or early postnatal development. However, various effects of low vs high food availability were found regarding the individuals' physiology and, to a small extent, their behavior. Low food availability caused higher concentrations of fecal corticosterone metabolites, as well as higher liver and lower spleen weights, suggesting an adaptation of the metabolism to this situation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2020.113193DOI Listing
January 2021
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