Facial vein (cheek blood) and caudal vein (tail blood) phlebotomy are two commonly used techniques for obtaining blood samples from laboratory mice, while automated blood sampling through a permanent catheter is a relatively new technique in mice. The present study compared physiological parameters, glucocorticoid dynamics as well as the behavior of mice sampled repeatedly for 24 h by cheek blood, tail blood or automated blood sampling from the carotid artery. Mice subjected to cheek blood sampling lost significantly more body weight, had elevated levels of plasma corticosterone, excreted more fecal corticosterone metabolites, and expressed more anxious behavior than did the mice of the other groups. Plasma corticosterone levels of mice subjected to tail blood sampling were also elevated, although less significantly. Mice subjected to automated blood sampling were less affected with regard to the parameters measured, and expressed less anxious behavior. We conclude that repeated blood sampling by automated blood sampling and from the tail vein is less stressful than cheek blood sampling. The choice between automated blood sampling and tail blood sampling should be based on the study requirements, the resources of the laboratory and skills of the staff.
Keywords: anxiety; catheterization; corticosterone; reduction; refinement.
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