Long-Term provision of environmental resources alters behavior but not physiology or neuroanatomy of male and female balb/c and c57bl/6 mice

Amy E. Clipperton-Allen, Joelle C. Ingrao, Laura Ruggiero, Lucas Batista, Jelena Ovari, Jutta Hammermueller, John N. Armstrong, Dorothee Bienzle, Elena Choleris, Patricia V. Turner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Few studies have evaluated the long-term effects of providing environmental resources to mice. This consideration is important given that mice are often maintained in vivaria for months. We evaluated the effects of providing simple cage resources (wood wool, cotton nesting material, a plastic tunnel, and oat cereal) compared with standard housing (solid-bottom cage with hardwood chips) to group-housed adult male and female C57BL/6 and BALB/c mice (n = 20/sex/strain/group) over 6 mo to determine whether these resources had a lasting effect on animal physiology, anatomy, and behavior. Body weights increased in all groups over time but were proportionately higher in male and female BALB/c mice housed in resource-supplemented environments. Throughout the study, adding environmental resources had no effect on hematology and lymphocyte subsets, fecal corticoid metabolite levels, response to LPS injection, or dendritic spine length or density. Strain-or sex×environmentspecific changes occurred in dark-light activity and thermal nociceptive responses. Dominant agonistic behaviors, abnormal conspecific sexual behaviors, and social nonagonistic behaviors demonstrated sex and strain×environment interactions such that fewer maladaptive social behaviors were noted in mice that were provided with environmental resources. This association was particularly evident in male mice of both strains in resource-supplemented environments. A small but significant increase in brain weight:body weight ratios occurred in mice in resource-supplemented environments. Under the conditions evaluated here, consistent use of simple environmental resources had a positive long-term effect on the behavioral wellbeing of male and female BALB/c and C57BL/6 mice yet minimally affected other aspects of murine physiology and neuroanatomy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)718-730
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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