Krueger, L. D., Chang, S. E., Motoc, M. et al. 2021. Effects of pair housing on patency of jugular catheters in rats (Rattus norvegicus). JAALAS 60(3), 357-364.
Chronic vascular access devices are widely used in a variety of species for repeated blood sampling or substance administration. Jugular catheters are commonly used for studying addiction-related behaviors in rats. Rats with catheters have historically been individually housed for the duration of the study to prevent cage mates from damaging the catheter. The 2 goals of this study were to determine 1) the effects of pair housing on catheter patency and 2) the effects of pair housing on catheter patency of rats in a study of opioid self-administration and cue-induced reinstatement of opioid-seeking behavior. The latter study also represented an opportunity for experimental refinement as it evaluated the temporary use of a barrier that allowed for pair-housed rats to be physically separated. Male Heterogeneous Stock (HS; n = 24) and Sprague–Dawley (SD; n = 121) rats were allocated to either single- or pair-housed condition. To assess the effect of social housing on catheter patency, rats (HS, n = 24; SD, n = 36) were monitored in their assigned housing condition for one month, with scheduled evaluation of catheter patency and structural damage. To examine the effect of social housing on catheter patency during a study of opioid self-administration and cue-induced reinstatement of opioid-seeking behavior, rats (SD, n = 85) were monitored in their assigned housing condition with similar routine patency evaluations. Catheter patency rates between single- and pairhoused rats were not statistically different in the first experiment, and pair-housed animals were successfully maintained on an infusion study in the second experiment. The use of a barrier between pair-housed rats after surgery allowed continued social contact with no observed adverse effects. These results suggest that, pair housing is a viable option for rats with chronic vascular implants, and may improve their wellbeing by allowing them to display species-typical social behaviors.