Identification of Rodent Husbandry Refinement Opportunities through Benchmarking and Collaboration

J Am Assoc Lab Anim Sci. 2022 Nov 1;61(6):624-633. doi: 10.30802/AALAS-JAALAS-21-000099. Epub 2022 Oct 17.


Expanding the use of methods that refine, reduce, and replace (3Rs) the use of animals in research is fundamental for both ethical and scientific reasons. The mission of the 3Rs Translational and Predictive Sciences Leadership Group (3Rs TPS LG) of the International Consortium for Innovation and Quality in Pharmaceutical Development (IQ Consortium) is to promote sharing and integration of science and technology to advance the 3Rs in the discovery and development of new medicines, vaccines, medical devices, and health care products for humans and animals. The 3Rs TPS LG is dedicated to identifying opportunities for member companies to share practices, enhance learning, promote discussions, and advance the 3Rs across the industry. One such opportunity was a benchmarking survey, conducted by the Contract Research Organization (CRO) Outreach Working Group, designed to share practices in rodent husbandry for drug safety research and to identify potential opportunities for refinement. IQ member companies and CROs in Asia, North America, and Europe were surveyed. Areas identified for potential alignment included provision of corncob bedding and wire-grid flooring, management of the nest at cage change, approaches to social housing for male mice, evidence-based enrichment strategies, and evaluating the effects of the timing of studies in relation to the animals' circadian rhythm and light-cycle, with consideration for how such extrinsic factors influence animal welfare and scientific outcomes. This manuscript presents the results of the benchmarking survey, including general trends in mouse and rat husbandry practices in toxicology studies, considerations for social housing, enrichment selection, and potential effects of bedding substrate, emphasizing opportunities for collaboration that can help to identify refinements to rodent husbandry practices.

MeSH terms

  • Animal Welfare
  • Animals
  • Asia
  • Benchmarking*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Rats
  • Rodentia*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires