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Euthanasia methods, corticosterone and haematocrit levels in Xenopus laevis : evidence for differences in stress?

By G. A. Archard, A. R. Goldsmith

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Abstract

Amphibians, like other vertebrates, respond to acute stressors by releasing glucocorticoid steroid hormones that mediate physiological and behavioural responses to stress. Measurement of stress hormones provides a potential means to improve the welfare of laboratory animals. For example, manipulations of laboratory housing and procedures combined with measurement of glucocorticoids may identify which conditions are more stressful to animals. This is important because there is very little experimental evidence to guide best practice for welfare in amphibians and other lower vertebrates. We investigated the effect of different methods of euthanasia on the circulating plasma corticosterone levels in the African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis), a model amphibian organism that is frequently used in laboratories. In particular, we investigated the effect of different concentrations and pH of the anaesthetic tricaine methanesulphonate (MS-222). Low concentration and unbuffered (low pH) solutions of MS-222 caused elevated corticosterone levels, but only after the effect of MS-222 treatment on blood fluid volume had been taken into account. The level of disturbance that animals experienced also affected corticosterone levels. Thus, our data suggest that to minimise stress to X. laevis, animals should be euthanised after minimal disturbance and in a 3 g L-1 MS-222 solution, buffered to pH 7. The potential for the improvement of amphibian welfare using corticosterone measures as a tool is discussed.

Date 2010
Publication Title Animal Welfare
Volume 19
Issue 1
Pages 85-92
ISBN/ISSN 0962-7286
Language English
Author Address 406 Resources Building, School of Forest Resources, the Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA 16802, USA. gaa11@psu.edu
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Tags
  1. Amphibians
  2. Anesthesia
  3. Animal diseases
  4. Animal housing
  5. Animal physiology
  6. Animal rights
  7. Animal welfare
  8. Blood
  9. Corticosteroids
  10. Euthanasia
  11. Frogs
  12. Glucocorticoids
  13. Hematocrit
  14. Hormones
  15. Improvement
  16. Laboratory and experimental animals
  17. Laboratory animal science
  18. Methodologies
  19. Methods
  20. peer-reviewed
  21. Pesticides and Drugs
  22. Pharmacology & Pharmacy
  23. practices
  24. steroids
  25. Stress
  26. Techniques
Badges
  1. peer-reviewed