The effects of tail biopsy for genotyping on behavioral responses to nociceptive stimuli

Maria Elena P. Morales, Robert W. Gereau IV

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Removal of a small segment of tail at weaning is a common method used to obtain tissue for the isolation of genomic DNA to identify genetically modified mice. When genetically manipulated mice are used for pain research, this practice could result in confounding changes to the animals' responses to noxious stimuli. In this study, we sought to systematically investigate whether tail biopsy representative of that used in standard genotyping methods affects behavioral responses to a battery of tests of nociception. Wild-type littermate C57BL/6J and 129S6 female and male mice received either tail biopsies or control procedural handling at Day 21 after birth and were then tested at 6-9 weeks for mechanical and thermal sensitivity. C57BL/6J mice were also tested in the formalin model of inflammatory pain. In all tests performed (von Frey, Hargreaves, modified Randall Selitto, and formalin), C57BL/6J tail-biopsied animals' behavioral responses were not significantly different from control animals. In 129S6 animals, tail biopsy did not have a significant effect on behavioral responses in either sex to the von Frey and the modified Randall-Selitto tests of mechanical sensitivity. Interestingly, however, both sexes exhibited small but significant differences between tail biopsied and control responses to a radiant heat stimulus. These results indicate that tail biopsy for genotyping purposes has no effect on nocifensive behavioral responses of C57BL/6J mice, and in 129S6 mice, causes only a minor alteration in response to a radiant heat stimulus while other nocifensive behavioral responses are unchanged. The small effect seen is modality- and strain-specific.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere6457
JournalPloS one
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 30 2009


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