Ziegler, A. A., Grobe, C. C., Reho, J. J. et al. 2022. Short-term housing in metabolic caging on measures of energy and fluid balance in male C57BL/6J mice (Mus musculus). JAALAS 61(2), 132-139.

Metabolic caging is an important tool for quantitative urine and feces collection in rodents, although significant limitations and problems accompany its use. Despite strong opinions among investigators regarding the effects of metabolic caging on energy and fluid homeostasis, careful quantitative analysis of the impact of this caging type-particularly when used for mice-is lacking. The current study assessed the effects of metabolic caging, with or without modifications such as plastic platform inserts, on ingestive behaviors, energy expenditure, accuracy of urine and fecal collection, and ambulatory activities in male C57BL/6J mice. Housing mice in metabolic cages, regardless of platform inclusion, increased energy expenditure without modifying food intake, presumably due to the inability of mice to perform normal thermoregulatory behaviors (burrowing and huddling). Surprisingly, mice in metabolic cages actively avoided platforms, and the inclusion of platforms modified the behavior of the mice and had position-dependent effects that reduced the accuracy of urine collection. Moving mice from cohousing to individual housing in home cages also increased ingestive behaviors and energy expenditure. We conclude that single housing of male C57BL/6J mice increases energy expenditure, that this increase is potentiated in metabolic caging conditions, and that platforms in metabolic cages alter mouse behavior and urine collection. Additional future work is needed to determine the potential benefits of using higher ambient temperature for studies of mice in metabolic caging and whether the above effects occur in females and other strains of mice and other rodent species.

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