Conventional and specific-pathogen free rats respond differently to anesthesia and surgical trauma

Letson, Hayley L., Morris, Jodie, Biros, Erik, and Dobson, Geoffrey P. (2019) Conventional and specific-pathogen free rats respond differently to anesthesia and surgical trauma. Scientific Reports, 9. 9399.

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Specific-pathogen free (SPF) animals were introduced in the 1960s to minimize disease and infection as variables in biomedical research. Our aim was to examine differences in physiological response in rat colonies bred and housed in a conventional versus SPF facility, and implications for research. Sprague-Dawley rats were anesthetized and catheterized for blood and pressure monitoring, and electrocardiogram (ECG) leads implanted. Hematology was assessed, and coagulation profile using rotational thromboelastometry. Health screening was outsourced to Cerberus Sciences. SPF rats had significantly lower pulse pressure (38% decrease), arrhythmias and prolonged QTc (27% increase) compared to conventional rats. No arrhythmias were found in conventional rats. SPF rats had significantly higher white cell, monocyte, neutrophil and lymphocyte counts, and were hyperfibrinolytic, indicated by EXTEM maximum lysis >15%. Independent assessment revealed similar pathogen exclusion between colonies, with the exception of Proteus in SPF animals. Returning to a conventional facility restored normal host physiology. We conclude that SPF animals displayed an abnormal hemodynamic, hematological and hemostatic phenotype in response to anesthesia and surgery, and provide a number of recommendations to help standardize research outcomes and translation.

Item ID: 58963
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2045-2322
Keywords: conventional; specific-pathogen free; trauma; surgery; anesthesia
Copyright Information: © The Author(s) 2019. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit
Funders: US Department of Defense (DOD), James Cook University (JCU), United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), United States Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC), Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)
Projects and Grants: USAMRMC proposal SO150053 under Award No. W81XWH-USSOCOM-BAA-15-1, IACUC protocol A2296
Date Deposited: 23 Jul 2019 23:24
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1102 Cardiovascular Medicine and Haematology > 110299 Cardiovascular Medicine and Haematology not elsewhere classified @ 50%
11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1199 Other Medical and Health Sciences > 119999 Medical and Health Sciences not elsewhere classified @ 50%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9201 Clinical Health (Organs, Diseases and Abnormal Conditions) > 920118 Surgical Methods and Procedures @ 50%
92 HEALTH > 9201 Clinical Health (Organs, Diseases and Abnormal Conditions) > 920103 Cardiovascular System and Diseases @ 40%
92 HEALTH > 9201 Clinical Health (Organs, Diseases and Abnormal Conditions) > 920199 Clinical Health (Organs, Diseases and Abnormal Conditions) not elsewhere classified @ 10%
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