IACUC Email Announcement March 9, 2010

A Message from the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee:

Title: Immunocompromised Rodent Husbandry Policy

The IACUC has developed a policy regarding methods for maintaining immunocompromised rodents. Adherence to this policy will prevent infection of the animals by adventitious pathogens, and will assure that rodents that are either permanently immunocompromised or temporarily immunocompromised by research manipulations are appropriately housed and cared for in a manner consistent with applicable laws and regulations, as well as University and scientific standards.

This policy applies to studies using immunocompromised rodents in any IACUC approved study at the University of Pittsburgh, and can now be found online at http://www.iacuc.pitt.edu/policies. You can also find the policy at http://www.dlar.pitt.edu/ , along with additional information and resources regarding the housing and care of animals at the University of Pittsburgh.

The policy emphasizes the following key points concerning the use of immunocompromised rodents:

  • Most agents found in the environment that affect mice or rats do not cause overt clinical signs or death in otherwise healthy animals with fully competent immune systems.However, adventitious pathogens can seriously affect the health of immunocompromised rodents.
  • The exposure of immunocompromised rodents to adventitious pathogens can result insubclinical responses that alter research results and thus compromise experimental outcomes.
  • Because some opportunistic pathogens (e.g. Pneumocystisis carinii, Psuedomonas aeroginosa, etc.) are difficult to eliminate from barrier rooms, immunocompromised and valuable genetically modified strains are housed under stricter conditions and management practices than other rodents.
  • All IACUC protocol submissions proposing the use of immunodeficient rodent strains and/or describing experimental manipulations resulting in “cryptic” immunocompromised rodents (e.g. whole body irradiation, delivery of immunosuppressant drugs, particular transgenic phenotypes, etc) must indicate the need for immunocompromised husbandry in the IACUC application form (question 39b).
  • Any PI with a scientific need to deviate from standard husbandry techniques or immunocompromised rodents must stipulate this request in the IACUC protocol submission. Such deviations from standard husbandry procedures must be reviewed and approved by the IACUC prior to implementation.

IACUC forms for new protocol submissions, protocol modifications, and annual renewals will be revised to reflect implementation of the immunocompromized rodent policy. The new forms must be used for submissions after April 1, 2010. See http://www.iacuc.pitt.edu/Forms for additional details. For more information, please review the IACUC Policy: Immunocompromised Rodent Husbandry for specific requirements.