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Jugular vein catheterization for repeated blood sampling in the unrestrained conscious rat.


Thrivikraman, K.V., Huot, R.L. and Plotsky, P.M.

Brain Research Protocols, 10(2), 84-94 (2002).

The ability to obtain repeated, low-stress blood samples from adult rats enables the design of complex experiments in which time course information or evaluation of repeated treatments is necessary. Furthermore, it reduces the number of animals necessary to acquire such information and, thus, facilitates compliance with the animal use 3Rs (reduction, refinement and replacement). To this end, a microsurgical technique to collect blood samples from the right atrium through a catheter (cannula) implanted into the right external jugular vein of adult rats is described. Rats tolerate this simple and efficient vascular access technique as evidenced by the absence of overt morbidity or abnormal behaviors. Blood is easily sampled while the rats reside in their home cages. Because the sample volume is replaced, repeated sampling is possible without compromising blood volume. Successful adoption of this procedure by other investigators will be aided by the photographic illustrations accompanying this detailed description of the procedure. Application of this technique to monitor temporal changes in plasma stress hormones during stressor paradigms as well as after behavioral and pharmacological challenges is discussed.