Hankenson, F. C., Marx, J. O., Gordon, C. J. et al. 2018. Effects of rodent thermoregulation on animal models in the research environment. Comparative Medicine 68(6), 425–438.
To best promote animal wellbeing and the efficacy of biomedical models, scientific, husbandry, and veterinary professionals must consider the mechanisms, influences, and outcomes of rodent thermoregulation in contemporary research environments. Over the last 2 decades, numerous studies have shown that laboratory mice and rats prefer temperatures that are several degrees warmer than the environments in which they typically are housed within biomedical facilities. Physiologic changes to rodents that are cage-housed under standard temperatures (20 to 26 °C) are attributed to ‘cold stress’ and include alterations in metabolism, cardiovascular parameters, respiration, and immunologic function. This review article describes common behavioral and physiologic adaptations of laboratory mice and rats to cold stress within modern vivaria, with emphasis on environmental enrichment and effects of anesthesia and procedural support efforts. In addition, potential interventions and outcomes for rodents are presented, relative to the importance of repeating and reproducing experiments involving laboratory rodent research models of human disease.