Measuring the effect of the tail-cuff protocol on central blood pressure in the mouse

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The mouse is commonly used in cardiovascular disease research. Therefore, accurate and reliable measurement of blood pressure in conscious mice is essential. Blood pressure can be measured directly from a major systemic blood vessel using implantable devices (telemetry probes) or noninvasively from a peripheral site such as the tail. Telemetry allows continuous collection of data in freely moving mice, whereas the mice are restrained during the tail-cuff procedure. However major surgery and higher cost associated with telemetry result in the fact that the tail-cuff technique remains widely used. The tail-cuff technique is known to cause stress in the animals and therefore its reliability and validity are questioned. The hypothesis is that the handling technique may reduce stress associated with the tail cuff technique. The aim of this thesis was to perform a detailed analysis of different handling techniques and the stages of the tail-cuff technique in their impact on central blood pressure, heart rate and core body temperature using telemetry. I have revealed that all interventions caused significant increases in these parameters, with the restraint step inducing the largest change, which is maintained throughout the restraint period. These were not further exacerbated by increasing temperature or tail-cuff inflations. I saw no differences due to different handling techniques or the operator’s gender. Having compared the simultaneous recordings obtained by telemetry and the tail-cuff in the same mouse, I found that the tail-cuff system consistently produced lower readings than telemetry. However, the readings obtained by the tail-cuff were similar to those obtained by telemetry in non-disturbed mice on the same day in normal and hypertensive mice. The results show that the tail-cuff technique induces a stress response in mice, which is not alleviated by repeated exposure. Although these results support the use of the tail-cuff for monitoring blood pressure in the hypertension model, they also highlight the fact that measuring the blood pressure from the tail may not be representative of the systemic blood pressure. This is important new knowledge for researchers who use murine models of hypertension.
Date of Award1 Feb 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorSusan Brain (Supervisor) & Julie Keeble (Supervisor)

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