Xie, W., Kordt, M., Palme, R. et al. 2021. Diagnostic ability of methods depicting distress of tumor-bearing mice. Animals 11(8), 2155.
Subcutaneous tumor models in mice are the most commonly used experimental animal models in cancer research. To improve animal welfare and the quality of scientific studies, the distress of experimental animals needs to be minimized. For this purpose, one must assess the diagnostic ability of readout parameters to evaluate distress. In this study, we evaluated different noninvasive readout parameters such as body weight change, adjusted body weight change, faecal corticosterone metabolites concentration, burrowing activity and a distress score by utilising receiver operating characteristic curves. Eighteen immunocompromised NOD.Cg-Prkdcscid Il2rgtm1Wjl/SzJ mice were used for this study; half were subcutaneously injected with A-375 cells (human malignant melanoma cells) that resulted in large tumors. The remaining mice were inoculated with SCL-2 cells (cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma cells), which resulted in small tumors. The adjusted body weight and faecal corticosterone metabolites concentration had a high diagnostic ability in distinguishing between mice before cancer cell injection and mice bearing large tumors. All other readout parameters had a low diagnostic ability. These results suggest that adjusted body weight and faecal corticosterone metabolites are useful to depict the distress of mice bearing large subcutaneous tumors.