Clinical assessment of urinary tract damage during sustained-release estrogen supplementation in mice

Dalis E. Collins, Kathleen R. Mulka, Mark J. Hoenerhoff, Russell S. Taichman, Jason S. Villano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Estrogen supplementation is a key component of numerous mouse research models but can adversely affect the urinary system. The goal of this study was to develop a clinical scoring system and identify biomarkers of occult urinary tract lesions prior to the development of systemic illness in mice. Ovariectomized or sham-surgery SCID mice were implanted subcutaneously with a placebo pellet or one containing sustained-release estradiol (0.18 mg 60-d release 17β-estradiol). Mice were assessed twice weekly for 4 to 6 wk by using a clinical scoring system that included body condition, general activity, posture, hair coat, hydration, abdominal distension, urine staining of coat and skin, and ability to urinate. Samples were collected weekly for urinalysis, BUN, creatinine, and serum estradiol levels. Terminal samples were analyzed for histopathologic lesions. Compared with placebo controls, estradiolsupplemented mice had higher serum estradiol levels at weeks 2 and 3; significant differences in total clinical scores by the 3-wk time point; and in body condition, general activity, posture, hair coat, and urine staining scores by the 6-wk terminal time point. Urinary tract lesions included hydronephrosis, pyelonephritis, cystitis, and urolithiasis. All mice with urolithiasis had crystalluria, and 5 of the 6 mice with pyelonephritis or hydroureter had dilute urine (that is, specific gravity less than 1.030). However, these findings were not specific to mice with lesions. A total clinical score of 3.5 (maximum, 24) identified estradiol-supplemented mice with 83% specificity and 50% sensitivity, but no single clinical parameter, biomarker, or the total clinical score accurately predicted occult urinary tract lesions. Considering the lesions we observed, prudence is warranted when using pelleted sustained-release estradiol in mice, and important parameters to monitor for animal health include urine staining, body condition score, urine sediment, and urine specific gravity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-21
Number of pages11
JournalComparative medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • veterinary(all)


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