Merley, A. L., Hubbard, J. S., Rendahl, A. K. et al. 2022. Behavioral and physiologic effects of dirty bedding exposure in female ICR mice. JAALAS 61(1), 42-51.
Exposure of sentinel mice to dirty bedding is commonly used in health monitoring programs to screen colonies for clinical and subclinical disease. Despite the potential stressors present in dirty bedding, including but not limited to microorganisms, pheromones, and ammonia, it is unknown whether sentinel mice exposed to soiled bedding experience stress. In this study, select behavioral and physiologic changes associated with stress were assessed in female ICR mice exposed to dirty bedding. Behavioral parameters included evaluation in the home cage and selected behavioral tests; physiologic measurements included neutrophil:lymphocyte ratio and weight. Mice in the acute group were exposed for 24 h whereas mice in the chronic group were exposed for 4 wk. Mice in the chronic group exposed to dirty bedding weighed less at days 21 and 28 than did control mice. Chronic mice exposed to dirty bedding also exhibited decreased net weight gain over the entire study period as compared with control mice. No significant differences were detected in the other behavioral and physiologic parameters measured. These results indicate that dirty bedding exposure may affect sentinel mice, but further investigation is needed to determine the specific mechanism(s) behind the weight difference.