News Release 

Social isolation stresses rodents

Researchers propose new housing approaches to strengthen pre-clinical trials

Society for Neuroscience

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IMAGE: Isolated rats experience increased seizures compared to handled rats or rats in group housing. view more 

Credit: Manouze et al., eNeuro 2019

The traditional method of housing mice and rats alone increases stress and worsens epilepsy, according to a new study published in eNeuro. The added stress could complicate results of pre-clinical drug trials.

Rodents are typically housed alone to prevent aggressive behaviors and simplify data collection. However, rats and mice are social animals, and isolation causes stress that could be a confounding factor in studies.

eNeuro Editor-in-Chief Christophe Bernard and colleagues examined how epileptic and healthy mice and rats fared in social or isolated housing conditions. They found that the isolated, healthy rodents displayed higher levels of stress and anxiety compared to the healthy rodents living in groups. Epileptic rodents also had more severe seizures when they were isolated, likely due to the increased stress of their environment.

These findings emphasize the need to recognize housing conditions as an important factor during experimental design and data analysis, since increased stress could interfere with results. Because of this, previously unsuccessful drugs might have failed pre-clinical trials due to the increased stress of the rodents and could still be viable treatments.

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Manuscript title: Effects of Single Cage Housing on Stress, Cognitive and Seizure Parameters in the Rat and Mouse Pilocarpine Models of Epilepsy

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About eNeuro

eNeuro, the Society for Neuroscience's open-access journal launched in 2014, publishes rigorous neuroscience research with double-blind peer review that masks the identity of both the authors and reviewers, minimizing the potential for implicit biases. eNeuro is distinguished by a broader scope and balanced perspective achieved by publishing negative results, failure to replicate or replication studies. New research, computational neuroscience, theories and methods are also published.

About The Society for Neuroscience

The Society for Neuroscience is the world's largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and nervous system. The nonprofit organization, founded in 1969, now has nearly 37,000 members in more than 90 countries and over 130 chapters worldwide.

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