Peculiarities of Biomedical Experiments Involving Ferrets

K.L. Kryshen, А.Е. Katelnikova, M.N. Makarova, V.G. Makarov

Institute of Preclinical Studies
188663, Russia, Leningrad Region, Vsevolozhsky District, Kuzmolovsky Urban-Type Settlement, 3, Zavodskaya St., Build. 245,
Е-mail: kryshen.kl@doclinika.ru

Abstract

Today ferrets are becoming increasingly popular in biomedical studies. Ferrets possess unique zootechnical characteristics, have a high susceptibility to virulent strains of the influenza virus and are most widely used in experimental studies to evaluate the immunogenic and protective properties of anti-influenza vaccines and the effectiveness of antiviral drugs. Influenza virus in ferrets causes infections that occur with clinical symptoms similar to those of a human infection (fever, runny nose, lethargy, weight loss, etc.). In addition, ferrets belong to predators, that may increase their value for preclinical studies as an animal species alternative to rodents. However, ferrets require special conditions and veterinary care. The purpose of this paper was to systematize the literature data and our own experience of working with ferrets in the laboratory. In an experimental vivarium, ferrets usually contain in cages with a height of at least 50 cm and a floor area depending on body weight from 1,500 to 6,000 cm2 per animal. Elements of the environment enrichment must be present in the cage such as hammocks, stairs, tunnels, balls. Environment temperature and humidity parameters for ferrets do not significantly differ from that for rodents. For ferrets that are used only in the experiment, a normal lighting cycle of 12 hours a day/12 hours a night is sufficient. Because ferrets are strict predators, they need a diet rich in protein and fat, but low in fiber. In the experiment most often used young adult male ferrets aged from 5 to 12 months, from 3 to 5 animals per group. Special attention in experimental work with ferrets should be given to anesthesia. Thus, the use of gas anesthesia, as a rule, is unacceptable, since repeated anesthesia during the experiment leads to marked changes in the lungs. One of the main parameters for assessing the development of influenza infection in ferrets is body temperature. The article proposes a method for measuring temperature with special implantable sensors, which allows to accurately and correctly analyse the dynamics of this parameter throughout the experiment.

Full text available only in Russian

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