Surface hypothermia predicts murine mortality in the intragastric Vibrio vulnificus infection model

Hannah E. Gavin, Karla J.F. Satchell*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: The Gram-negative bacterium Vibrio vulnificus can cause severe disease in humans who consume undercooked, contaminated seafood. To study food-borne V. vulnificus disease in the laboratory, mouse virulence studies predominantly use death as the primary experimental endpoint because behaviorally based moribund status does not consistently predict lethality. This study assessed ventral surface temperature (VST) and its association with mouse survival during V. vulnificus virulence studies as an efficacious, humane alternative. Methods: VST of mice intragastrically inoculated with V. vulnificus was measured every 2-h for 24 h and data for minimal VST analyzed for prediction of lethal outcome. Results: In contrast to the relatively stable VST of mock-infected control animals, mice infected with V. vulnificus exhibited hypothermia with minima occurring 8 to 12 h post-inoculation. The minimum VST of mice that proceeded to death was significantly lower than that of surviving mice. VST ≤ 23.5 °C was predictive of subsequent death with a sensitivity of 68% and specificity of 95%. Conclusions: Use of VST ≤ 23.5 °C as an experimental endpoint during V. vulnificus infection has potential to reduce suffering of nearly 70% of mice for a mean of 10 h per mouse, without compromising experimental efficacy. Temperature cutoff of 23.5 °C exhibited 93% positive and 77% negative predictive value. For future V. vulnificus virulence studies requiring only binary comparison (e.g., LD50 assays), we find that VST can be applied as a humane endpoint. However, use of VST is not recommended when detailed survival kinetics are desired.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number136
JournalBMC Microbiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 19 2017


  • Enteric pathogen
  • Humane endpoint
  • Infrared thermometry
  • Surface temperature
  • Vibrio vulnificus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)

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