Fecal corticoid metabolites in aged male and female rats after husbandry-related disturbances in the colony room

Sonia A. Cavigelli, Faisal A. Guhad, Rachel M. Ceballos, Courtney A. Whetzel, Timo Nevalainen, C. Max Lang, Laura Cousino Klein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


We applied novel noninvasive fecal steroid measures to characterize aged rats' responses to a series of common animal room disturbances, including a direct comparison of male and female immunoreactive corticosterone metabolites in feces. The fecal measure provides a unique method to measure the physiologic responses of laboratory animals to altered husbandry procedures. This assay is noninvasive and, because rodents produce fecal pellets throughout the day, long-term monitoring can be conducted to capture abnormal levels associated with alterations in husbandry procedures. Over a 3-h period, 10 male and 10 female Fischer 344 rats (age, 82 wk) were exposed to a series of events that can occur in a colony housing room (keys jingling, cage lids opening, alteration of the light cycle). Fecal samples were collected at timed intervals on the day before and several days after the exposure, extracted, and analyzed for fecal corticoid metabolites by use of a commercial enzyme immunoassay. Fecal metabolites in these aged rats were elevated 3- to 5-fold above baseline levels approximately 20 h after exposure to the experimental events. Overall, we detected more immunoreactive fecal corticoid metabolites in feces from male rats than female rats, even though female rats normally secrete greater amounts of glucocorticoids into circulation. Our results indicate that this assay can be used to identify marked elevations in corticoid metabolite levels after alterations in laboratory husbandry procedures. We discuss the implications of these findings for animal researchers and those involved in animal husbandry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-21
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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