The effect of cage ventilation rate on the health of mice housed in Individually Ventilated Cages
The number of air changes per hour (ACH), an important index for individually ventilated cages (IVC), strongly affects the cage microenvironment and the health of laboratory animals. The objective of this study was to determine whether high or low cage ventilation adversely affects the health of mice housed in IVC systems and to identify cage ventilation rates suitable for the welfare of mice. We tested three different cage ventilation rates (40, 60, and 80 ACH) for 3 weeks in an IVC system. The temperature, relative humidity and ammonia concentrations in the cages were measured daily. The indices used to assess mouse health at specific time points throughout the study were body weight, stress hormones, T lymphocyte subsets (CD4 and CD8), immunoglobulins (IgG, IgM and IgA) and immune cells. There were no significant differences in body weight, growth hormones, immunoglobulin and T lymphocyte subsets in the IVC groups compared with the control group. The concentrations of corticosterone and epinephrine on day 7 of cage ventilation at 80 ACH were significantly higher than those in the control group (P < 0.05). Mice housed in 80 ACH cages had the lowest immune cell counts among all groups, and the numbers of lymphocytes and neutrophils were significantly lower than those in the control group (P < 0.05). In summary, cage ventilation at 60 ACH provided an optimum cage microenvironment for mouse health and welfare.