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Non-invasively Assessing Disturbance and Stress in Laboratory Rats by Scoring Chromodacryorrhoea.

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Title: Non-invasively Assessing Disturbance and Stress in Laboratory Rats by Scoring Chromodacryorrhoea.
Author: Mason, G.J.; Hampton, C.; Würbel, H.; Wilson, D.
Abstract: In rats, like many rodents, Harderian glands next to the orbits secrete porphyrins, lipids and other compounds. High levels of secretion lead to chromodacryorrhoea (red or “bloody” tears), often taken as a sign of stress or disease. Here, we developed a scoring system for recording chromodacryorrhoea in a quantitative way, and investigated whether the low-level, transient Harderian secretions of normal, healthy rats correlate with low to moderate levels of stress or disturbance. Rather than exposing our subjects (24 Lister Hoodeds, housed in 11 single-sex cages) experimentally to stressors, we made opportunistic use of three likely sources of low-level stress within the unit: 1) building maintenance work, taking several hours and involving several potential stressors; 2) visits by unfamiliar humans, and the other mild sources of disturbance normal in an animal unit; and 3) social status within the cage. The mean daily chromodacryorrhoea score increased most with the severe disturbance of building maintenance work (F1,9 = 602.67, p << 0.0001), and also increased — though to a lesser extent — with the mild disturbance of visitors and similar (F1,9 = 8.77, p = 0.008), while being the subordinate member of a cage-group had a smaller effect still (F1,6 = 7.86, p = 0.03). Individual rats scored consistently across treatment conditions, and there was also significant inter observer reliability between independent scorers. We therefore suggest that scoring chromodacryorrhoea could be a simple, practical and non-invasive way of sensitively assessing the impact on rats of housing, husbandry, or procedures.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10214/4721
Date: 2004
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Citation: G. Mason, C. Hampton, D. Wilson & H. Würbel (2004). Non-invasively Assessing Disturbance and Stress in Laboratory Rats by Scoring Chromodacryorrhoea. Alternatives to Laboratory Animals 32 (suppl. 1): 153 – 159.


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