In this section

Cold Cages Could Mean Poor Data

According to a study in the latest issue of Cell Metabolism, data can be compromised by keeping laboratory mice in cages that are too cold.

Science News reports that the researchers were conducting a study on metabolic inflammation, insulin resistance, and atherosclerosis and how it presents in mice housed in temperatures that are “thermoneutral” for them compared to standard, colder lab temperatures. The results indicated that cold temperatures could actually be hiding the inflammation that signals metabolic disease, as well as the progression of plaque build-up in the arteries of the mice with atherosclerosis.

Laboratory mice are most comfortable at around 30˚C; at this thermoneutral temperature, they are relatively calm and don’t have to move around a lot to remain comfortable. Unfortunately, lab mice are usually kept in temperatures designed to suit humans: typically between 19˚C and 22˚C.

According to Dr Ajay Chawla, co-author of the study, this lack of warmth “stresses mice”, and means that they have to move around and use more energy than they would otherwise. This has a whole range of effects on vital signs and puts them in a state of constant anxiety. However, this is not the prime concern of the study: the issue that Dr Chawla and his colleagues were looking into was the effect that incorrect temperatures have on modelling human diseases.

The researchers fed one group of mice a high-fat diet, with the aim of promoting obesity. The other group were put on a high-cholesterol diet with the aim of causing atherosclerosis. Both groups were then split for observation according to temperature, with one group in a 22˚C environment and the other in a 30˚C environment.

The warm-temperature groups showed increased inflammation in blood tissues and fatty acids compare to the low-temperature group. In addition, the warm-temperature group’s immune systems responded up to six weeks earlier.

According to Dr Chawla, temperature “causes profound changes.” This suggests that the current procedures for using mice in testing for metabolic conditions may be seriously flawed. Obviously further extensive research is needed to determine how much of an impact temperature has in this area of study.

This research raises questions about data quality, rodent welfare, and the link between the two that will not be easy to answer. One of the main drives behind the design of ActualHCA was the possibility of improving data quality while simultaneously making more provisions for the 3Rs. The need for widespread adoption of technology that facilitates this has never been more evident than it is now.

To read the study in Cell Metabolism, click here. For the article in Science News, click here. If you’d like to learn more about ActualHCA and how it improves welfare and data accuracy, visit our product page or get in touch today.