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Assessing the effect of compounds from plantar foot sweat, nesting material, and urine on social behavior in male mice, Mus musculus

Devaraj, Sankarganesh, Barabas, Amanda J., Soini, Helena A., Novotny, Milos V., Lucas, Jeffrey R., Erasmus, Marisa A., Cheng, Heng-Wei, Palme, Rupert and Gaskill, Brianna N. (2022) Assessing the effect of compounds from plantar foot sweat, nesting material, and urine on social behavior in male mice, Mus musculus. PLOS ONE, 17 (11). e0276844. ISSN 1932-6203


Home cage aggression causes poor welfare in male laboratory mice and reduces data quality. One of the few proven strategies to reduce aggression involves preserving used nesting material at cage change. Volatile organic compounds from the nesting material and several body fluids not only correlate with less home cage aggression, but with more affiliative allo-grooming behavior. To date, these compounds have not been tested for a direct influence on male mouse social behavior. This study aimed to determine if 4 previously identified volatile compounds impact home cage interactions. A factorial design was used with cages equally split between C57BL/6N and SJL male mice (N = 40). Treatments were randomly assigned across cages and administered by spraying one compound solution on each cage’s nesting material. Treatments were refreshed after day 3 and during cage change on day 7. Home cage social behavior was observed throughout the study week and immediately after cage change. Several hours after cage change, feces were collected from individual mice to measure corticosterone metabolites as an index of social stress. Wound severity was also assessed after euthanasia. Measures were analyzed with mixed models. Compound treatments did not impact most study measures. For behavior, SJL mice performed more aggression and submission, and C57BL/6N mice performed more allo-grooming. Wound severity was highest in the posterior region of both strains, and the middle back region of C57BL/6N mice. Posterior wounding also increased with more observed aggression. Corticosterone metabolites were higher in C57BL/6N mice and in mice treated with 3,4-dimethyl-1,2-cyclopentanedione with more wounding. These data confirm previous strain patterns in social behavior and further validates wound assessment as a measure of escalated aggression. The lack of observed treatment effects could be due to limitations in the compound administration procedure and/or the previous correlation study, which is further discussed.

Item Type: Article
Date Deposited: 29 Dec 2022 00:45
Last Modified: 29 Dec 2022 00:45


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