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Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthCAAT

Animal Welfare Enhancement Awards - 2005 Recipients

Use of Body Condition Scoring as an Endpoint for Tumor Growth Studies
Debra Hickman, DVM, MS
 Portland VA Research Foundation, Inc.

When mice are used in studies where wasting and death are potential complications, practical, rapid, and noninvasive methods for assessing health status and establishing endpoints are needed. Endpoints typically consist of a panel of clinical observations that suggest than an animal is in pain or distress, requiring intervention through treatment or euthanasia. Researchers are required to obtain approval of their endpoints from the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee prior to project initiation. Tumor growth studies often are very challenging, as the growth of the tumor may mask one of the more commonly used endpoints — loss of weight.

Body condition scoring (BCS), assessed by palpation of the fat and muscles of the hindquarters of the mouse, has been characterized as a means of evaluating the health of normal mice (Ullman-Cullere and Foltz, 1999). Although BCS has potential as an endpoint for experimentally manipulated mice, such as those on tumor growth and ascites studies, formal evaluation of this application has not been published. This project proposes to evaluate BCS as an endpoint for tumor growth studies, used in conjunction with other common endpoints, such as weight loss, general body condition, attitude, tumor size, and the presence of ulceration of the tumor.