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Guide for the Care and use of Laboratory Animals: Eighth Edition
well as the duration of the animal’s current and prior exposure to light, and the animal’s pigmentation, circadian rhythm, body temperature, hormonal status, age, species, sex, and stock or strain (Brainard 1989; Duncan and O’Steen 1985; O’Steen 1980; Saltarelli and Coppola 1979; Semple-Rowland and Dawson 1987; Wax 1977). More recent studies in rodents and primates have shown the importance of intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (distinct from rods and cones) for neuroendocrine, circadian, and neurobehavioral regulation (Berson et al. 2002; Hanifin and Brainard 2007). These cells can respond to light wavelengths that may differ from other photoreceptors and may influence the type of lighting, light intensity, and wavelength selected for certain types of research.
In general, lighting should be diffused throughout an animal holding area and provide sufficient illumination for the animals’ well-being while permitting good housekeeping practices, adequate animal inspection including for the bottom-most cages in racks, and safe working conditions for personnel. Light in animal holding rooms should provide for both adequate vision and neuroendocrine regulation of diurnal and circadian cycles (Brainard 1989).
Photoperiod is a critical regulator of reproductive behavior in many animal species (Brainard et al. 1986; Cherry 1987), so inadvertent light exposure during the dark cycle should be minimized or avoided. Because some species, such as chickens (Apeldoorn et al. 1999), will not eat in low light or darkness, such illumination schedules should be limited to a duration that will not compromise their well-being. A time-controlled lighting system should be used to ensure a regular diurnal cycle, and system performance should be checked regularly to ensure proper cycling.
Most commonly used laboratory rodents are nocturnal. Because albino rodents are more susceptible to phototoxic retinopathy than other animals (Beaumont 2002), they have been used as a basis for establishing room illumination levels (Lanum 1979). Data for room light intensities for other animals, based on scientific studies, are not available. Light levels of about 325 lux (30-ft candles) approximately 1 m (3.3 ft) above the floor appear to be sufficient for animal care and do not cause clinical signs of phototoxic retinopathy in albino rats (Bellhorn 1980). Levels up to 400 lux (37-ft candles) as measured in an empty room 1 m from the floor have been found to be satisfactory for rodents if management practices are used to prevent retinal damage in albinos (Clough 1982). However, the light experience of an individual animal can affect its sensitivity to phototoxicity; light of 130-270 lux above the light intensity under which it was raised has been reported to be near the threshold of retinal damage in some individual albino rats according to histologic, morphometric, and electrophysiologic evidence (Semple-Rowland and Dawson 1987). Some guidelines recommend a light intensity as low as 40 lux at the position of the animal in