Xing, G., Lu, J., Hu, M. et al. 2015. Effects of group housing on ECG assessment in conscious cynomolgus monkeys. Journal of Pharmacological and Toxicological Methods 75, 44-51.

Assessing the cardiovascular safety of new chemical or biological entities is important during pre-clinical development. Electrocardiogram (ECG) assessments in non-human primate (NHP) toxicology studies are often made using non-invasive telemetry systems. We investigated whether ECG recording was feasible during group housing of NHPs, rather than the usual single housed arrangement, and whether it would impact the data collected or affect the ability to detect drug-induced changes in QTc interval. Following a period of acclimatisation to jackets, cynomolgus monkeys (3 males and 3 females) were housed in same sex groups of 3. Female monkeys were administered 4 doses of vehicle while male monkeys were administered vehicle, 15, 45, and 135 mg/kg moxifloxacin. Each dose was administered on a separate dosing day. The same dosing protocol was repeated with the animals singly housed and the results from the two phases were compared including assessment of statistical power. Heart rate (HR) was significantly lower, and PR and QT intervals were significantly higher, at multiple time points when the animals were group housed compared with the singly housed phase. QRS duration and QTc interval were less affected. Moxifloxacin increased QT and QTc intervals but had no consistent effect on HR, QRS duration or PR interval under group housed or singly housed conditions. Power analysis suggested that group housing did not adversely affect the magnitude of detectable changes of ECG parameters. In general, detection of slightly smaller changes was achieved under conditions of group housing. The current study shows group housing to be technically possible during non-invasive ECG recording, resulting in lower resting heart rates and small improvements in sensitivity of detection of drug-induced effects. Given the psychological benefits of group housing for NHPs, it is a refinement that should be considered when conducting ECG assessments in NHP toxicology studies.

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