humane endpoint, and the response required upon reaching the humane endpoint. An understanding of preemptive euthanasia (Toth 2000), behavioral or physiologic definitions of the moribund state (ibid.), and the use of study-specific animal assessment records (Morton 2000; Paster et al. 2009) can aid the PI and IACUC when considering or developing proposed endpoints. When novel studies are proposed or information for an alternative endpoint is lacking, the use of pilot studies is an effective method for identifying and defining humane endpoints and reaching consensus among the PI, IACUC, and veterinarian. A system for communication with the IACUC should be in place both during and after such studies. Numerous publications address specific proposals for the application and use of humane endpoints (e.g., CCAC 1998; ILAR 2000; OECD 1999; Toth 1997; UKCCCR 1997).
Unexpected Outcomes Fundamental to scientific inquiry is the investigation of novel experimental variables. Because of the potential for unexpected outcomes that may affect animal well-being when highly novel variables are introduced, more frequent monitoring of animals may be required. With their inherent potential for unanticipated phenotypes, GMAs are an example of models for which increased monitoring for unexpected outcomes could be implemented (Dennis 1999).
GMAs, particularly mice and fish, are important animal models, and new methods and combinations of genetic manipulation are constantly being developed (Gondo 2008). Regardless of whether genetic manipulation is targeted or random, the phenotype that initially results is often unpredictable and may lead to expected or unexpected outcomes that affect the animal’s well-being or survival at any stage of life. For example, in some instances genetic modification has led to unforeseen immunodeficiency, requiring the GMA offspring to be held under specialized bioexclusion conditions (Mumphrey et al. 2007); and the promoter sequences used to direct expression of transgenes to specific tissues have varying degrees of specificity (“leakiness”) that can lead to unanticipated phenotypes (Moorehead et al. 2003). These examples illustrate the diversity of unanticipated outcomes and emphasize the need for diligent monitoring and professional judgment to ensure the animals’ well-being (Dennis 2000). The first offspring of a newly generated GMA line should be carefully observed from birth into early adulthood for signs of disease, pain, or distress. Investigators may find that the phenotype precludes breeding of particular genotypes or that unexpected infertility occurs, situations that could lead to increases in the numbers of animals used and revision of the animal use protocol. When the initial characterization of a GMA reveals a condition that negatively affects animal well-being, this should be reported to the IACUC, and more extensive analysis may be required to better define the phenotype (Brown et al. 2000; Crawley 1999; Dennis 2000). Such monitoring and reporting may