The influence of the cage environment on rodent physiology and behavior: Implications for reproducibility of pre-clinical rodent research

Exp Neurol. 2015 Aug:270:72-7. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2015.04.010. Epub 2015 Apr 22.


The reproducibility of pre-clinical research is an important concern that is now being voiced by constituencies that include the National Institutes of Health, the pharmaceutical industry, Congress, the public and the scientific community. An important facet of performing and publishing well-controlled reproducible pre-clinical research is to stabilize and more completely define the environment of the animal subjects. Scientists who use rodents in research generally recognize the importance of maintaining a stable animal environment. However, despite a theoretical and general awareness of these issues, many may lack a true appreciation of how significantly even seemingly minor variations in the environment can affect research outcomes. The purpose of this article is to help investigators gain a more comprehensive and substantiated understanding of the potentially significant impact of even seemingly minor environmental changes on the animals and the data. An important caveat to this article is that the examples presented were selected from a very large literature, admittedly in order to illustrate certain points. The goal of this article is not to provide an overview of the entire literature on how the environment affects rodents but rather to make preclinical scientists more aware of how these factors can potentially influence the experimental data and contribute to poor reproducibility of research.

Keywords: Environmental enrichment; Housing; Mice; Rats.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Housing, Animal*