Effects on Mouse Food Consumption after Exposure to Bedding from Sick Mice or Healthy Mice

Rebecca M. Lovasz, Daniel L. Marks, Benjamin K. Chan, Kim E. Saunders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Control mice housed in the same room as mice with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) demonstrate decreased food intake coincident with the cachexia experienced by the mice with PDAC. Mice are considered an empathetic species, and we hypothesized that the reduced food intake in normal mice was an "empathy state" that was mediated by olfactory cues. Naïve male and female C57BL/6 mice were exposed to soiled bedding from mice experiencing PDAC induced cachexia or from control mice in the PDAC study. Body weight, food intake, and food spillage were measured across 48 h. Statistically significant differences in food consumption were found at various time points in both positive and negative directions for the 2 bedding conditions, and the direction of effect was opposite for males and females. Although analysis of data from previous PDAC studies showed differences in food spillage between PDAC mice and their controls, in this study we found no correlation between food consumption and food spillage based on bedding type. Disruption of food intake due to the "empathy state" requires testing larger numbers of animals to attain appropriate statistical power, which is contrary to the goal of using fewer animals. Empathy effects require careful consideration of sample size and cautious interpretation of results. This study also highlights the importance of sex as a biologic variable and why quantifying food spillage is important in studies of food intake.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)687-694
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2020


  • PDAC
  • pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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