Mice stressed by male scientists may distort research
A new study finds that animal studies conducted by male scientists may place added stress on mice and rats and suggests that that could distort research results.
Mice often are used in science experiments because their genome is most like that of humans. Mutations linked to diseases in humans, for instance, often cause similar diseases in mice. But scientists recently have begun to express concern over why researchers are often unable to replicate mouse study findings.
So scientists from McGill University in Montreal decided to see if they could determine the cause of mouse study inaccuracies. They focused on how stress levels in mice changed when they were near male researchers as opposed to female scientists.
The McGill researchers found that when in the presence of males, mice and rats experienced a stress response equivalent to that caused by being restrained for 15 minutes. They also concluded that the stress response was caused mainly by smells unique to males.
Experts said that the study’s findings, published in the journal Nature Methods, could change some aspects of how experiments are conducted in order to yield the most accurate results possible.