It is assumed that there are cumulative effects of repeated invasive procedures and contingent stressors on the welfare of non-human primates used in neuroscience research. The new EU Directive (2010/63/EU) on the use of animals in research emphasises the "lifetime experience" of animals and requires assessment of the "cumulative severity" of experiments. However, there are currently few data on the long-term impacts of repeated procedures to inform severity banding.
We aim to develop novel psychobiomarkers of cumulative stress based on our knowledge of major depressive disorder in humans and apply these measures to macaques involved in neuroscience research. We will take two main approaches: (1) measurement via qPCR of changes in leukocyte telomere length, and (2) measurement via MRI of structural and functional changes in the brain. These dependent variables will be taken at 6-monthly intervals from a group of 40+ animals involved in various types of neuroscience research; telomere measurements will also be made in 30+ control animals not subject to invasive procedures. Information on sources of possible stress (our independent variables, e.g. number and type of procedures, days on antibiotics or fluid control) will be collated for all animals in the study. Statistical modelling will be used to explore the relationships between potential stressors and our candidate psychobiomarkers.
These analyses will allow us to answer the question of whether the number and/or type of stressors a monkey has experienced predict changes in psychobiomarkers of cumulative stress. If cumulative effects of stressors are found, we will attempt to identify the shape of the relationship between stressors and our psychobiomarkers. Our results will: (1) provide a scientific basis for determining the cumulative severity rating of procedures, (2) reveal procedures that are most in need of refinement, and (3) permit adjudication on the relative costs of continued use of animals.
Poirier C et al. (2019). Validation of hippocampal biomarkers of cumulative affective experience. Neuroscience and Biobehavioural Reviews 101:113-121. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2019.03.024
Poirier C et al. (2019). Pacing behaviour in laboratory macaques is an unreliable indicator of acute stress. Scientific Reports 9:7476. doi :10.1038/s41598-019-43695-5
Pepper GV et al. (2018). Telomeres as integrative markers of exposure to stress and adversity: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Royal Society open science 5(8):180744.
Milham MP et al. (2018). An open resource for non-human primate imaging. Neuron 100(1):61-74. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2018.08.039
Bateson M, Poirier C (2018). Can biomarkers of biological age be used to assess cumulative lifetime experience? Animal Welfare 28:41-56. doi: 10.7120/09627286.28.1.041
Bateson M, Nettle D (2017). The telomere lengthening conundrum - it could be biology. Aging cell 16(2):312-319. doi: 10.1111/acel.12555
Nettle D, Bateson M (2017). Detecting telomere elongation in longitudinal datasets: analysis of a proposal by Simons, Stulp and Nakagawa. PeerJ 5:e3265. doi: 10.7717/peerj.3265
Poirier C, Bateson M (2017). Pacing stereotypies in laboratory rhesus macaques: Implications for animal welfare and the validity of neuroscientific findings. Neuroscience and biobehavioral reviews 83:508-515. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2017.09.010
Bateson M (2016). Optimistic and pessimistic biases: a primer for behavioural ecologists. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences 12:115-121. doi: 10.1016/j.cobeha.2016.09.013
Bateson M (2015). Cumulative stress in research animals: Telomere attrition as a biomarker in a welfare context? BioEssays 38(2):201-12. doi: 10.1002/bies.201500127
Bateson M, Nettle D (2015). Development of a cognitive bias methodology for measuring low mood in chimpanzees. PeerJ 3:e998. doi: 10.7717/peerj.998
Principal investigatorProfessor Melissa Bateson
Co-InvestigatorProfessor Alex Thiele
Dr Candy Rowe
Professor Paul Flecknell
Professor Thomas von Zglinicki
Professor Roger Lemon