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Animal testing on rodents

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Rodents are commonly used in animal testing, particularly mice and rats, but also guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils and others Mice are the most commonly used vertebrate species, due to their availability, size, low cost, ease of handling, and fast reproduction rate


  • 1 Statistics
  • 2 Rodent types
    • 21 Mice
    • 22 Syrian hamsters
    • 23 Rats
  • 3 Limitations
  • 4 See also
  • 5 Notes
  • 6 External links


In the UK in 2015, there were 333 million procedures on rodents 80% of total procedures that year The most common species used were mice 303 million procedures, or 73% of total and rats 268,522, or 65% Other rodents species included guinea pigs 21,831 / 07%, hamsters 1,500 / 004% and gerbils 278 / 001%1

In the US, the numbers of rats and mice used are not reported, but estimates range from around 11 million2 to approximately 100 million3 In 2000, the Federal Research Division, Library of Congress, published the results of an analysis of its Rats/Mice/and Birds Database: Researchers, Breeders, Transporters, and Exhibitors

Over 2,000 research organizations are listed in the database, of which approximately 500 were researched and of these, 100 were contacted directly by FRD staff These organizations include hospitals, government organizations, private companies pharmaceutical companies, etc, universities/colleges, a few secondary schools, and research institutes Of these 2,000, approximately 960 are regulated by USDA; 349 by NIH; and 560 accredited by AALAC Approximately 50 percent of the organizations contacted revealed a specific or approximated number of animals in their laboratories The total number of animals for those organizations is: 250,000–1,000,000 rats; 400,000–2,000,000 mice; and 130,000–900,000 birds

Rodent typesedit


Main article: Laboratory mouse

Mice are the most commonly used vertebrate species, popular because of their availability, size, low cost, ease of handling, and fast reproduction rate4 Mice are quick to reach sexual maturity, as well as quick to gestate, where labs can have a new generation every three weeks as well as a relatively short lifespan of two years5

They are widely considered to be the prime model of inherited human disease and share 99% of their genes with humans6 With the advent of genetic engineering technology, genetically modified mice can be generated to order and can cost hundreds of dollars each7

Transgenic animal production consists of injecting each construct into 300–350 eggs, typically representing three days' work Twenty to fifty mice will normally be born from this number of injected eggs These animals are screened for the presence of the transgene by a polymerase chain reaction genotyping assay The number of transgenic animals typically varies from two to eight8

Chimeric mouse production consists of injecting embryonic stem cells provided by the investigator into 150–175 blastocysts, representing three days of work Thirty to fifty live mice are normally born from this number of injected blastocysts Normally, the skin color of the mice from which the host blastocysts are derived is different from that of the strain used to produce the embryonic stem cells Typically two to six mice will have skin and hair with greater than seventy percent ES cell contribution, indicating a good chance for embryonic stem cell contribution to the germline8

Syrian hamstersedit

Main article: Animal testing on Syrian hamsters

Syrian hamsters are used to model the human medical conditions including various cancers, metabolic diseases, non-cancer respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases, infectious diseases, and general health concerns9 In 2006-07, Syrian hamsters accounted for 19% of the total animal research participants in the United States10


Main article: Laboratory rat


While mice, rats and other rodents are by far the most widely used animals in biomedical research, recent studies have highlighted their limitations11 For example, the utility of the use of rodents in testing for sepsis,12 burns,12 inflammation,12 stroke,1314 ALS,151617 Alzheimer’s,18 diabetes,1920 cancer,2122232425 multiple sclerosis,26 Parkinson’s disease26 and other illnesses has been called into question by a number of researchers Regarding experiments on mice in particular, some researchers have complained that “years and billions of dollars have been wasted following false leads” as a result of a preoccupation with the use of these animals in studies11

An article in The Scientist notes, “The difficulties associated with using animal models for human disease result from the metabolic, anatomic, and cellular differences between humans and other creatures, but the problems go even deeper than that” including issues with the design and execution of the tests themselves14

For example, researchers have found that many rats and mice in laboratories are obese from excess food and minimal exercise which alters their physiology and drug metabolism27 Many laboratory animals, including mice and rats, are chronically stressed which can also negatively affect research outcomes and the ability to accurately extrapolate findings to humans2829 Researchers have also noted that many studies involving mice, rats and other rodents are poorly designed, leading to questionable findings141617 One explanation for deficiencies in studies of rodents housed in laboratory cages is that they lack access to environmental agency and thus the ongoing freedom to make decisions and experience their consequences By housing rodents under extreme impoverished conditions, these captive animal bear diminished resemblance to humans or their wild conspecifics 33

Some studies suggests that inadequate published data in animal testing may result in irreproducible research, with missing details about how experiments are done are omitted from published papers or differences in testing that may introduce bias Examples of hidden bias include a 2014 study from McGill University in Montreal, Canada which suggests that mice handled by men rather than women showed higher stress levels53031 Another study in 2016 suggested that gut microbiomes in mice may have an impact upon scientific research32

See alsoedit

  • Animal Testing
  • Animal model
  • BALB/c
  • C57BL/6
  • Mouse models of colorectal and intestinal cancer
  • Preclinical imaging
  • Rat Park
  • Testing cosmetics on animals
  • Mouse models of breast cancer metastasis


  1. ^ "Annual Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals, Great Britain, 2015 Home Office
  2. ^ US Statistics, 2014 - Speaking of Research
  3. ^ Carbone, L 2004 What Animals Want: Expertise and Advocacy in Laboratory Animal Welfare Policy Oxford University Press ISBN 9780195161960 
  4. ^ Willis-Owen SA, Flint J 2006 "The genetic basis of emotional behaviour in mice" Eur J Hum Genet 14 6: 721–8 PMID 16721408 doi:101038/sjejhg5201569 
  5. ^ a b "The world’s favourite lab animal has been found wanting, but there are new twists in the mouse’s tale" The Economist Retrieved 2017-01-10 
  6. ^ The Measure Of Man, Sanger Institute Press Release, 5 December 2002
  7. ^ Taconic Transgenic Models, Taconic Biosciences
  8. ^ a b "WUSM :: Mouse Genetics Core :: Services" Washington University in St Louis 2005-07-07 Archived from the original on 2007-08-04 Retrieved 2007-10-22 
  9. ^ Valentine 2012, p 875-898
  10. ^ United States Department of Agriculture September 2008, Animal Care Annual Report of Activities - Fiscal Year 2007 PDF, United States Department of Agriculture, retrieved 14 January 2016 
  11. ^ a b Kolata, Gina 11 February 2013 "Mice Fall Short as Test Subjects for Some of Humans’ Deadly Ills" New York Times Retrieved 6 August 2015 
  12. ^ a b c Seok; et al 7 January 2013 "Genomic responses in mouse models poorly mimic human inflammatory diseases" Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110: 3507–3512 PMC 3587220  PMID 23401516 doi:101073/pnas1222878110 Retrieved 6 August 2015 
  13. ^ Bart van der Worp, H 30 March 2010 "Can Animal Models of Disease Reliably Inform Human Studies" PLOS Medicine 2: 1385 PMC 1690299  PMID 1000245 doi:101371/journalpmed1000245 Retrieved 6 August 2015 
  14. ^ a b c Gawrylewski, Andrea 1 July 2007 "The Trouble With Animal Models" The Scientist Retrieved 6 August 2015 
  15. ^ Benatar, M April 2007 "Lost in translation: Treatment trials in the SOD1 mouse and in human ALS" Neurobiology of Disease 26 1: 1–13 doi:101016/jnbd200612015 Retrieved 6 August 2015 
  16. ^ a b Check Hayden, Erika 26 March 2014 "Misleading mouse studies waste medical resources" Nature Retrieved 6 August 2015 
  17. ^ a b Perrin, Steve 26 March 2014 "Preclinical research: Make mouse studies work" Nature Retrieved 6 August 2015 
  18. ^ Cavanaugh, Sarah; Pippin, John; Bernard, Neal 10 April 2013 "Animal models of Alzheimer disease: historical pitfalls and a path forward1" PDF ALTEX 31 3: 279–302 doi:1014573/altex1310071 Retrieved 6 August 2015 
  19. ^ Roep, Bart; Atkinson, Mark; von Herrath, Matthias November 2004 "Satisfaction not guaranteed: re-evaluating the use of animal models in type 1 diabeties" Nature Immunology 4: 989–997 PMID 15573133 doi:101038/nri1502 Retrieved 6 August 2015 
  20. ^ Charukeshi Chandrasekera, P; Pippin, John 21 November 2013 "Of Rodents and Men: Species-Specific Glucose Regulation and Type 2 Diabetes Research" PDF ALTEX 31: 157–176 doi:1014573/altex1309231 Retrieved 6 August 2015 
  21. ^ Glenn Begley, C; Ellis, L 29 March 2012 "Drug development: Raise standards for preclinical cancer research" Nature 483: 531–533 PMID 22460880 doi:101038/483531a Retrieved 6 August 2015 
  22. ^ Voskoglou-Nomikos, T; Pater, J; Seymour, L 15 September 2003 "Clinical predictive value of the in vitro cell line, human xenograft, and mouse allograft preclinical cancer models" PDF Clinical Cancer Research 9: 4227– 4239 Retrieved 6 August 2015 
  23. ^ Dennis, C 17 August 2006 "Cancer: off by a whisker" Nature 442 7104: 739–41 PMID 16915261 doi:101038/442739a 
  24. ^ Garber, K 6 September 2006 "Debate Grows Over New Mouse Models of Cancer" Journal of the National Cancer Institute 98 17: 1176–8 PMID 16954466 doi:101093/jnci/djj381 
  25. ^ Begley, Sharon 5 September 2008 "Rethinking the war on cancer" Newsweek Retrieved 6 August 2015 
  26. ^ a b Bolker, Jessica 1 November 2012 "There's more to life than rats and flies" Nature Retrieved 6 August 2015 
  27. ^ Cressey, Daniel 2 March 2010 "Fat rats skew research results" Nature 464 19 PMID 20203576 doi:101038/464019a Retrieved 6 August 2015 
  28. ^ Balcomb, J; Barnard, N; Sandusky, C November 2004 "Laboratory routines cause animal stress" Contemporary Topics in Laboratory Animal Science 43 6: 42–51 PMID 15669134 
  29. ^ Murgatroyd, C; et al 8 November 2009 "Dynamic DNA methylation programs persistent adverse effects of early-life stress" Nature Neuroscience 12: 1559–1566 PMID 19898468 doi:101038/nn2436 Retrieved 6 August 2015 
  30. ^ Katsnelson, Alla "Male researchers stress out rodents" Nature doi:101038/nature201415106 
  31. ^ "Male Scent May Compromise Biomedical Research" Science | AAAS 2014-04-28 Retrieved 2017-01-10 
  32. ^ "Mouse microbes may make scientific studies harder to replicate" Science | AAAS 2016-08-15 Retrieved 2017-01-10 
33 G P Lahvis Rodent Models of Autism, Epigenetics, and the Inescapable Problem of Animal Constraint Animal Models of Behavior Genetics, Springer, 2016, pp 265–301

External linksedit

  • Information about mouse models from HOPES:Huntington's Disease Outreach Project for Education at Stanford
  • Animal Model of Disease from Animal Research Organization

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