Gallo, M. S., Karas, A. Z., Pritchett-Corning, K. et al. 2020. Tell-tale TINT: Does the time to incorporate into nest test evaluate postsurgical pain or welfare in mice? JAALAS 59(1), 37–45.
Identifying early indicators of distress in mice is difficult using either periodic monitoring or current technology. Likewise, poor pain identification remains a barrier to providing appropriate pain relief in many mouse models. The Time to Incorporate to Nest Test (TINT), a binary measure of the presence or absence of nesting behavior, was developed as a species-specific method of identifying moderate to severe distress and pain in mice. The current study was designed to evaluate alterations in nesting behavior after routine surgery and to validate the TINT's ability to measure pain-related behavioral changes. CD1 mice undergoing carotid artery catheterization as part of a commercial surgical cohort were randomly assigned various nesting, surgery, and analgesia conditions. To provide context for the TINT outcomes, we measured other variables affected by pain, such as weight loss, food consumption, and scores derived from the Mouse Grimace Scale (MGS). Mice that had surgery were more likely to have a negative TINT score as compared with controls. All mice were more likely to fail the TINT after receiving postoperative buprenorphine, suggesting that buprenorphine may have contributed to the failures. The TINT, MGS live scoring, and scoring MGS images all loaded strongly on a single component in a principal component analysis, indicating strong convergent validity between these measures. These data indicate that the TINT can provide a quick, objective indicator of altered welfare in mice, with the potential for a wide range of uses.