Health Care for Genetically Altered Rodents

The health quality of laboratory mice and other rodents has improved significantly due, in large part, to improved surveillance programs and housing. Further, as the use of laboratory rodents in biomedical research has increased, largely for transgenic and gene targeting studies, genetically-modified rodent substrains have assumed great value. These animals often are less robust, typically with a reduced reproductive efficiency and/or lowered disease resistance, and they may pose a challenge for both disease recognition and a correct phenotypic assessment in the presence of an infection. Maintaining these animals in optimal health is critical to meet the growing demands of cutting edge biomedical research.

Principles for Maintaining the Health Care of Genetically Altered Rodents

  1. The integrity of animal experimentation must be supported by the highest quality clinical and diagnostic laboratory services.
  2. Applied research is needed on emerging rodent infectious diseases for the improvement of diagnostics.
  3. Uniform international standards for defining rodent quality should be adopted for assessing animals to be used in biomedical experimentation. These standards should encompass rodent products, including tumors, cell lines, and blood products.
  4. A universal format and language that is clear, accurate and complete should be used to report test results pertaining to rodent quality. Nomenclature (e.g., SPF, VAF) should also be universally understood.