Humane Endpoints in Shock Research

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In biomedical research using animal models, the phrase “humane endpoints” refers to predetermined criteria used to judge when the research animals should be humanely euthanized. The intended goal of humane endpoints is to minimize the distress or suffering of research animals; however, if applied incorrectly, this well-intended concept could lead to premature decisions and inaccurate data, resulting in a waste of animal life. A concensus on specific endpoints for shock and inflammation research is not available but several biochemical, physical and behavioral parameters have been suggested for other research models. In addition, the authors have found, in the studies presented here, that increasing body weight, decreased body temperature, and inability to ambulate are important parameters in a model of cecal ligation and puncture. However, it is clear that the applicability of these endpoints may change with the model of disease, intensity of insults, experimental treatments and other factors. Consequently, humane endpoints should be assigned cautiously and preferably after preliminary studies to prevent aberrant research results. In order to accomplish this, investigators must become aware of certain concepts including: when to implement endpoints, what endpoints to consider, and how to establish the endpoints for their studies. Equipped with the basic principles of humane endpoints, investigators can make informed decisions that meet current standards of animal care while still achieving the scientific goals of their research studies.

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