Xie, W., Lorenz, M., Poosch, F. et al. 2022. 3D-printed lightweight dorsal skin fold chambers from PEEK reduce chamber-related animal distress. Scientific Reports 12(1), 11599.
The dorsal skinfold chamber is one of the most important in vivo models for repetitive longitudinal assessment of microcirculation and inflammation. This study aimed to refine this model by introducing a new lightweight chamber made from polyetheretherketone (PEEK). Body weight, burrowing activity, distress, faecal corticosterone metabolites and the tilting angle of the chambers were analysed in mice carrying either a standard titanium chamber or a PEEK chamber. Data was obtained before chamber preparation and over a postoperative period of three weeks. In the early postoperative phase, reduced body weight and increased faecal corticosterone metabolites were found in mice with titanium chambers. Chamber tilting and tilting-related complications were reduced in mice with PEEK chambers. The distress score was significantly increased in both groups after chamber preparation, but only returned to preoperative values in mice with PEEK chambers. In summary, we have shown that light chambers reduce animal distress and may extend the maximum dorsal skinfold chamber observation time. Chambers made of PEEK are particularly suitable for this purpose: They are autoclavable, sufficiently stable to withstand rodent bites, inexpensive, and widely available through 3D printing.