Facial expressions are widely used in assess pain in human infants. Research animals experiencing pain also exhibit characteristic changes in facial expressions. For rodents, the five facial features that change include narrowing of the eyes (orbital tightening), and bulging or flattening of the cheeks and nose). Quantification of these changes using "Grimace Scales" provides both a reliable indices of the pain experienced by the research animal and a quicker and more robust alternative to the monitoring of behaviour or clinical signs. To date, grimace scales have been developed and validated for mice, rats and rabbits. Grimace scales for rhesus macaques, sheep, pigs and horses are currently under development.
Mice: Langford DJ et al. (2010) Nature Methods 7, 447-449.
Rat: Sotocinal SG et al]. (2011) Molecular Pain 7, 55.
Rabbit: Keating SCJ et al. (2012) Plos One 7 (9): e44437. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0044437.
'Grimace scales' for mice and rats were developed by Dr Jeffrey Mogil from McGill University, Canada. The rabbit scale was subsequently developed by Dr Matt Leach and colleagues at Newcastle University, United Kingdom. These studies have been published in Nature Methods and, with copyright retained by these journals
These resources can be utilised by both researchers and individuals responsible for the welfare and husbandry of research animals.
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