Laboratory animal science issues in the design and conduct of studies with endocrine-active compounds.
The use of rodent models for research and testing on endocrine-active compounds necessitates an awareness of a number of laboratory animal science issues to standardize bioassay methods and facilitate reproducibility of results between laboratories. These issues are not unique to endocrine research but are particularly important in this field due to the complexities and interdependencies of the endocrine system, coupled with the inherently sensitive and variable nature of physiological endpoints. Standardization of animal models and the control of animal environments depend on the establishment of strong scientific partnerships between research investigators and laboratory animal scientists. Laboratory animal care and use programs are becoming increasingly complex and are constantly changing, fueled in part by technological advances, changes in regulations concerning animal care and use, and economic pressures. Since the early 1980s, many institutions have moved to centralization of animal facility operations concomitant with numerous changes in housing systems, barrier concepts, equipment, and engineering controls of the macro- and microenvironment. These and other changes can have an impact on animals and the conduct of endocrine experiments. Despite the potential impact of animal care and use procedures on research endpoints, many investigators are surprisingly naive to the animal facility conditions that can affect in vivo studies. Several key animal care and use issues that are important to consider in endocrine experiments with rodent models are described.
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