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Pharmacological validation of individual animal locomotion, temperature and behavioural analysis in group-housed rats using a novel automated home cage analysis system: A comparison with the modified Irwin test

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Karen Tse
  • Rowland Sillito
  • Amy Keerie
  • Rachel Collier
  • Claire Grant
  • Natasha A Karp
  • Cathy Vickers
  • Kathryn Chapman
  • J. Douglas Armstrong
  • William S. Redfern

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1 - 13
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Pharmacological and Toxicological Methods
Early online date1 Apr 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Apr 2018


Background: The ActualHCA™ system continuously monitors the activity, temperature and behavior of group-housed rats without invasive surgery. The system was validated to detect the contrasting effects of sedative and stimulant test agents (chlorpromazine, clonidine and amphetamine), and compared with the modified Irwin test (mIT) with rectal temperature measurements.
Methods: Six male Han Wistar rats per group were used to assess each test agent and vehicle controls in separate ActualHCA™ recordings and mIT. The mIT was undertaken at 15, 30 mins, 1, 2, 4 and 24 h post-dose. ActualHCA™ recorded continuously for 24 h post-dose under 3 experimental conditions: dosed during light phase, dark phase, and light phase with a scheduled cage change at the time of peak effects determined by mIT.
Results: ActualHCA™ detected an increase stimulated activity from the cage change at 1-2 h post-dose which was obliterated by chlorpromazine and clonidine. Amphetamine increased activity up to 4 h post-dose in all conditions. Temperature from ActualHCA™ was affected by all test agents in all conditions. The mIT showed effects on all 3 test agents up to 4 h post-dose, with maximal effects at 1-2 h post-dose. The maximal effects on temperature from ActualHCA™ differed from mIT. Delayed effects on activity were detected by ActualHCA™, but not on mIT.
Conclusions: Continuous monitoring has the advantage of capturing effects over time that may be missed with manual tests using pre-determined time points. This automated behavioural system does not replace the need for conventional methods but could be implemented simultaneously to improve our understanding of behavioural pharmacology.

    Research areas

  • Temperature

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