Comparison of blood pressure and sympathetic activity of rabbits in their home cage and the laboratory environment Academic Article uri icon


  • Methodological improvements in measuring cardiovascular parameters have meant that data can be collected from freely moving animals in their home cage. However, experiments in rabbits still often require them to be restrained in a laboratory setting. The aim of this study was to determine whether measurements collected when rabbits were placed in a holding box in the laboratory are representative of values obtained in freely moving conscious rabbits. Nine New Zealand White rabbits received two radiotelemetry implants to monitor mean arterial pressure (MAP) and renal sympathetic nerve activity (RSNA). The MAP measured in the laboratory (71 ± 1 mmHg) was similar to that in the home cage (69 ± 1 mmHg), but there was less MAP variability. The RSNA was also similar in both environments. In contrast, laboratory heart rate (HR) was 7% lower than home cage HR (181 ± 4 beats min(-1), P < 0.001), but HR variability was similar. Baroreflex gain, assessed by spectral analysis, was 19% higher in the laboratory than in the home cage due to lower MAP mid-frequency variability in the laboratory. Home cage circadian patterns of MAP and HR were strongly influenced by feeding and activity. Nevertheless, MAP and RSNA laboratory measurements were the same as average 24 h values and remained similar over several weeks. We conclude that while HR is generally lower in the laboratory, a valid representation of MAP and RSNA can be given by laboratory measurements.


publication date

  • December 1, 2012